Reedmace (otherwise but incorrectly known as “Bullrush”)(Typha spp.) is a semi-aquatic grass-like plant which dies back every autumn and re-appears in the spring from its rhizomatous rootstock. The plant itself is instantly recognisable. Even in mid-winter, when the living parts are safely hidden beneath the mud, the fluffy seed-heads from last years flowering stems give their location away.
Several different parts of this plant are edible, at different times of year, but my favourite has got to be the tender hearts of the fresh spring shoots, which have just come into season in south-east England. The green parts of the stem are not so great to eat, rather like leeks or spring onion. Reedmace stems should be treated similarly, although instead of just chopping off the green bits and leaving the white, the outer layers of the Reedmace stem bases can be gently peeled off (use your fingers, not a knife).
The taste is mild, fresh, slightly grass-like and a little bit peppery. They are excellent raw, sliced into salads, or can be steamed and served with a little butter or white sauce.
There’s not much you’re likely to confuse Reedmace with, but it does sometimes grow with Yellow Flag Iris, which is poisonous. It also tastes vile, so there is unlikely to be a problem, but take care.
If you cannot find any Reedmace locally, and would like to try foraging some yourself, there are still a few places left on our spring foraging courses later this month.