Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney, Australia

Typha orientalis

Typhaceae

Broad-leaved Cumbungi

Baraba to Eora people

Description

This robust water plant grows up to 4 m high, shooting up from extensive rhizomes (underground stems). The stiff leaf-bearing stems end in a velvety chestnut-brown flower spike. The Cumbungi has separate male and female flowers. The male flowers are found at the top of the spike and produce pollen. The female flowers are the velvety-brown areas 0-5 cm further down the spike. Flowers appear in the warmer months.

Where it is found

Cumbungi occurs in swamps, margins of lakes and streams, irrigation channels and drains. It is widespread across New South Wales from the coast, inland to the western plains.

Uses

  • Rhizomes are roasted, providing starch and sugars; the leftover fibres can be used to make string.
  • The new white-green shoots are eaten raw.
  • The young flower spikes can be steamed and eaten like sweet corn.

Further information

Click here for further information on Typha orientalis.

Typha orientalis
Rhizomes, young shoots and flowers of the common and widespread Cumbungi (Typha orientalis) are edible. Photo: Surrey Jacobs, Georges River, Sydney.

Typha-orientalis
Typha orientalis: habit, flower spike, leaf.