Kuga lake – lake reed

Lake plague (Scirpus lacustris); sedge family (Suregaseae); lake reed


Reed is often wrongly called ryegrass, the cylindrical brown fruits of which on long stalks are often sold under this name.

In fact, the reed looks completely different and even belongs to a different family, and its scientific name is lake kuga. It is a perennial herb 100-200 cm tall with a long rhizome. Unlike the cattail, the stem of the kuga is almost leafless, cylindrical. The flowers are small, greenish, collected in panicle-like panicle inflorescences up to 10 cm long, bloom in June-July. Kuga forms large thickets in the coastal parts of slow-flowing and stagnant water bodies. It is often submerged in water, sometimes to a depth of 1 m. It is a common plant in the European part of Russia, Western Siberia, as well as in Kazakhstan, Belarus, Ukraine, and the Baltic states. It happens much less often in Eastern Siberia.

The white bases of the kuga stems can be eaten raw, and its rhizomes contain a large amount of starch. They are dried, ground and added to grain flour. However, it is necessary to know that a large amount of cane flour in bread can cause gastrointestinal disorders.

The stems and rhizomes of kuga also contain a lot of sugars – up to 48%, so they can be used to obtain syrup. For this purpose, the rhizomes are crushed, poured with water (1 liter per 1 kg of rhizomes) and boiled for an hour. The resulting decoction is filtered and evaporated to the required concentration.

Mats and rugs are woven from kuga, and in the southern part of Russia, plant stems are mixed with clay to obtain a cheap building material, which is used to plaster frame walls (hence the name of such buildings – mazanka).

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