A Philippine narrative speaks of a magnificently upright Mango tree looking down on the easily-bent Lampakanay. Never did the golden fruit tree foresee that flexibility is more desirable to weather the storms of circumstance. When the dark clouds had gone, the Lampakanay was found to have withstood the assaults of wind and rain while the Mango tree lay broken and bowed. The fable of the sturdy Mango tree and the bending will of the Lampakanay is a story that mirrors the ability of the Lampakanay to prosper and multiply with the gusts of time.
Also known as Bulrush or Cattail in other countries, Lampakanay is a powerhouse grass with uses ranging from edible food source, medicine to utilitarian applications. This sea grass was not so long ago considered a weed that grows in stagnant water. This 2-meter high grass is seen with its “hotdog-like” flower head on top of a long stalk with upright and slender leaf blades. The flower heads can produce up to 1000 flowers and eventually become seeds that are broken off and distributed via wind and water. The fluffy insides of its flower heads can also be used as pillow stuffings.
The Native Americans dub Typha latifolia, the most common cattail, as the “supermarket” of the swamp. Its young shoots can be eaten; its flower heads cooked liked corn on a cob; the brownish pollen can be made into flour; even the rhizomes can be roasted. A cattail’s leaves can be dried and the stems soaked in muddy water to create a patterned material attractive for weaving and accenting craft-works. Although not as strong as other fibers, the furniture & creative sectors mix Abaca and Lampakanay in their products for that quaint and rustic look.
Its abundance and ease in propagation means supply will not run short. Other applications include ropes and twines, storage drawers, mats and paper. Although not made for alfresco furniture, Lampakanay brings a summer splash into any indoor fixture.