Young shoots in spring - raw or cooked. An asparagus substitute. 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].Flowering stem - cooked. Tastes like sweet corn.
A fibre obtained from the leaves can be used for making paper The leaves are harvested in summer, autumn or winter and are soaked in water for 24 hours prior to cooking. The fibres are cooked for 2 hours with soda ash and then beaten in a ball mill for 1½ hours. They make a green or brown paper. A fibre is obtained from the blossom stem and flowers. 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 and have also been used as a wound dressing and a lining for babies nappies.. The stems can be used to make rush lights. The outer skin is removed except for a small strip, or spine, running the entire length to give stability. The stem is then soaked in oil.The pollen is highly inflammable, it is used in making fireworks etc.
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