Young shoots in spring - raw or cooked. An asparagus substitute. The inner core is eaten. Base of mature stem - raw or cooked. It is best to remove the outer part of the stem. Young flowering stem - raw, cooked or made into a soup. Tastes like sweet corn. Seed - cooked. The seed is rather small and fiddly to utilize, but has a pleasant nutty taste when roasted. An edible oil is obtained from the seed. Due to the small size of the seed this is probably not a very worthwhile crop[K].Pollen - raw or cooked. A protein rich additive to flour used in making bread, porridge etc. It can also be eaten with the young flowers, which makes it considerably easier to utilize. The pollen can be harvested by placing the flowering stem over a wide but shallow container and then gently tapping the stem and brushing the pollen off with a fine brush. This will help to pollinate the plant and thereby ensure that both pollen and seeds can be harvested[K].
A fibre obtained from the roots can be used for making string. The hairs of the fruits are used for stuffing pillows etc. They have good insulating and buoyancy properties. The pollen is highly inflammable and is used in making fireworks.This plants extensive root system makes it very good for stabilizing wet banks of rivers, lakes etc.
The pollen is astringent, desiccant, diuretic, haemostatic and vulnerary. It is used in the treatment of nose bleeds, haematemesis, haematuria, uterine bleeding, dysmenorrhoea, postpartum abdominal pain and gastralgia, scrofula and abscesses. It is contraindicated for pregnant women. The seed down is haemostatic.The rootstock is astringent and diuretic.
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- Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
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