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This is a family of 10-12 species of aquatic and marsh herbs in one widely distributed genus (Mabberley 1987).
Calcium oxalate needle crystals (raphides) are known to occur in at least two species -T. angustifolia; T. latifolia (Prychid & Rudall 1999); according to Aplin (1981), this represents a dermatological hazard. Also, the abundantly-produced pollen, which may become airborne (Wodehouse 1971), is used in Chinese traditional medicine as a haemostat.
- Typha angustifolia L.
- (syn. Typha basedowii Graebner)
- Narrow-leaved Cat-tail
According to Nadkarni (1976), the woolly soft inflorescence of T. angustifolia is used like cotton wool (see Gossypium L.) as a local dressing to wounds and ulcers. By his reference to the common name "elephant grass", Nadkarni (1976) may actually have been referring to Typha elephantina Roxb., an Indian species.
- Typha capensis Rohrb.
Quisumbing (1951) records that the woolly inflorescence is used in the Philippines for healing wounds, probably acting as a mechanical haemostatic. The root and lower stem is used in the Eastern Cape, South Africa to prepare an infusion for use as an external wash for wounds (Grierson & Afolayan 1999).
- Typha latifolia L.
- Great Reedmace, Reedmace, False Bulrush, Bulrush, Cat's Tail, Cat-tail Flag, Broad-leaved Cat-tail
Anon (1975) reported that the dried and cooked pollen of this species acts as a blood coagulant - see also Typha orientalis below.
A widespread papular eruption occurred in workers who contacted the plant. The bites of Chilacis typhae were incriminated on circumstantial evidence (Balogh 1965).
- Typha orientalis C.Presl
- (syn. Typha muelleri Rohrb.)
- Broad-leaved Cumbungi, Broad-leaved Bulrush
Pu Huang, the dried pollen from this species and also from T. angustifolia L., is recognised in Chinese traditional medicine as a haemostat (Huang 1993).
- Anon (1975) Herbal Pharmacology in the People's Republic of China. A trip report of the American Herbal Pharmacology Delegation. Washington, DC: National Academy of Sciences [WorldCat] [url] [url-2]
- Aplin TEH (1981) Plants that cause dermatitis. Australian Journal of Dermatology 22: 33-35
- Balogh L (1965) Gyekeny felhasznalase kapcsan keletkezett foglalkozasi dermatitis. Bôrgyógyászati és Venerologiai Szemle 41: 219
- Grierson DS and Afolayan AJ (1999) An ethnobotanical study of plants used for the treatment of wounds in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 67(3): 327-332
- Huang KC (1993) The Pharmacology of Chinese Herbs. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press [WorldCat]
- Mabberley DJ (1987) The Plant-Book. A portable dictionary of the higher plants. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
- Nadkarni AK (1976) Dr. K. M. Nadkarni's Indian Materia Medica. With ayurvedic, unani-tibbi, siddha, allopathic, homeopathic, naturopathic & home remedies, appendices & indexes, Revised enlarged and reprinted 3rd edn, Vols 1 & 2. Bombay: Popular Prakashan [WorldCat] [url]
- Prychid CJ, Rudall PJ (1999) Calcium oxalate crystals in monocotyledons: a review of their structure and systematics. Annals of Botany 84(6): 725-739 [doi] [url] [url-2]
- Quisumbing E (1951) Medicinal Plants of the Philippines. Tech. Bull. Philipp. Agric. Nat. Res. (16). Manila, Philippine Islands: Manila Bureau of Printing
- Wodehouse RP (1971) Hayfever Plants. Their appearance, distribution, time of flowering, and their role in hayfever. 2nd revised edn. New York, NY: Hafner Publishing Company