Bulrush, photo: Jussi Helimäki

Large dark brown spadices make the bulrush so unique that it is not possible to mistake it for another plant. They often grow densely together, forming reed beds. They can be pioneers in the sense that they are the first plants to grow in muddy areas. When the seeds are ready, the spadices break down, revealing a cotton-like structure, from which the wind can spread the seeds. In addition, the bulrush reproduces vegetatively – with a rhizome. Bulrushes are also beneficial in multiple ways for humans. Above all, they decorate waterbodies. But its long flexible leaves can be used to wreathe all kinds of mats, baskets, and strings. The fibre of the leaves could also be used to produce cloth for making bags. Their rhizomes, which are several centimetres thick, however, contain a lot of the same nutrient as potatoes and grains: starch. Therefore, the rhizomes of bulrush have been used for food in several places. The spadices can be dipped in grease or wax, after which they can be lit like a candle – the stem acts as a wick.