family: Cat-tail (Typhaceae)
vétanó'ėstse, "tongue plants"
Broadleaf cattail (common bullrush) is stately, wetland, riparian plant. Stems are thick, stiff, unbranched, more than 2 m tall, with flower spike on the top. This plant forms thick, yellow-brown, brittle rhizomes laying in mud. Leaves are greyish green, flat, narrowly linear, 10 to 23 mm wide. Inflorescence is composed from two spikes, one above other. Sometimes they are up to 30 cm long. Lower one is wider, red-brown, containing female flowers. Upper one contains male flowers. Broadleaf cattail blossoms in July and August. Upper spike fades and slips from after pollination. This plant grows on shores of slowly flowing or stagnant waters, in drains, and wetlands. It is cosmopolite species. In Northern America, it ranges in the USA (except arid area along Mexican border), southern and central Canada, and central Alaska. Also, in the Czech Republic.
Cheyennes knew that decoction of dried, pounded root and white pulp of leaves reduced belly-ache (Grinnell 1923 II: 170). Cattail leaves serves during the Sun Dance Ceremony (hestȯsanestȯtse or hoxéhevȯhomó'hestȯtse). Dancers stood upon them for their cooling effect (Hart 1981: 13).
Young stems was eaten in spring (Tallbull 1993: 67). Spike was boiled to mush. It thickened broths or sauces (Hooper 1975: 81). Baskets and mats was made from cattail leaves formerly. Egret was put in cradleboards. It served as a diaper. The egret insulates from coldness very well therefore it was stuffed into shoes to protect from frostbites (Hart 1981: 13; Tallbull 1993: 67). The leaves are used for wrapping the tipi tassels to this day (Holley 2001). After settlement in western Oklahoma, the Southern Cheyenne tipi-makers obtained the leaves from the Northern Cheyennes as the broadleaf cattail didn’t range there (Marriott 1956: 26).
Cheyennes believed that downy cattail seeds gotten to one’s eye caused cataract (Hart 1981: 13).