The not-invasive Bulrush

My naturally colonised Bulrush, a widely hated ‘invasive’ plant, is still showing none of its reputed triffid nature in my pond.

It’s now midsummer and we’ve got a total of five stems.

Most interesting, the plants are practically dwarfs – mine are about 70 cm tall,

My Bulrush 28 June 2009

My Bulrush 28 June 2009

only a quarter of the 3 m they can reach.

I think – though I’ve no proof of this – the very low levels of nutrients in the pond are keeping them stunted. I still don’t really anticipate them taking over, not for a few years yet anyway.


7 Responses to “The not-invasive Bulrush”

  1. Janet Vince Says:

    My bullrush looks about the same and has been in for 2-3 years I think. The irises onthe other hand have proliferated alarmingly and Ive taken lots out. I found some leeches is this usual in British ponds and do they do any harm?

    • Jeremy Biggs Says:

      Hi Janet – that’s interesting that your bulrush doesn’t grow much either.

      As for leeches: they’re a perfectly normal part of the life of ponds – though not so common in small garden ponds because they don’t move from pond to pond quite as easily and quickly as the animals that can fly (like water beetles or dragonflies or pond skaters).

      Our leeches mostly eat other small animals (its only in TV films of the tropics that they get up your trousers). In this country only one feeds on the blood of mammals and that’s the Medicinal Leech – which if you go paddling in a leech pond will seek you out (though its bite is completely painless because it injects an anaethetic as it bites – hence its use in medicine. It’s a rare and endangered animal and it would be rather wonderful to have them in your pond! In fact they mostly feed on amphibians in this country, as well as a bit on horses and cattle.


  2. Janet Vince Says:

    Thanks for that Jeremy, I think they are small ordinary leeches, they werent interested in my fingers when I was putting them back in the pond. They probably came with the water lilies or irises which I got from a friend. There are quite a lot of frogs, pond skaters etc which is good as there are fish as well.

    • Jeremy Biggs Says:

      Hi Janet

      You might fancy doing the Big Dip survey yourself if you haven’t already done it?


  3. nae Says:

    Just a little tid bit that the plant is actually called cattails (Typha latifolia) and its invasiveness or weediness can also be controlled by the native plants. The more native plants you have the less room the cattails have to invade. If they ever get too bad you can cut them off bellow the water buring the winter and they should die off.

    • Jeremy Biggs Says:

      Hi Nae – thanks for the comment. What you know as cattails (I’m guessing you’re writing from the States) we usually call Bulrush, and sometimes Great Reedmace. Lucky really that we all know it’s Typha latifolia.

      This gets even more confusing in continental Europe where instead of pronouncing the Latin name Tie-fa as we do, it becomes Tee-fa because y is the ‘ee’ sound in many cotintental European languages So much for the universality of Latin names!


  4. Diana Says:

    Hi Jeremy

    I was interested to read this entry about bulrushes because we have Typha gracilis in our old pond and after reading about it recently had decided not to risk putting it in the new pond. It is supposed to grow to 18 inches and msut be about that now. However said new pond is looking a little bare – would you still recommend typha latifolia, is this the smaller variety? We have a smaller rush like plant which has a cluster of brown spiky flowers at the top – not sure was this is as I have lost the ticket which came with it.

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