Scientific name: Typha orientalis
Wetland plant group: Bullrush
Plant growth form: Up to 2m
Related species: None in New Zealand
Raupō (bullrush) is a distinctive and abundant wetland plant. It is quite vigorous and will grow from fairly deep and permanent waters to seasonally inundated areas that may be very dry in the summer months. Raupō can be the dominant plant over hectares of fertile swamp. Spotless crake and the threatened Australasian bittern make their home in these larger areas of raupō.
Raupō dies back over winter and grows again in the spring from starch-filled rhizomes (underground stems). It has tiny flowers, which are densely clumped into a single, long, brown spike (bullrush head). The spikes release fluffy wind-blown seeds, which early European settlers used to stuff their pillows and mattresses. Māori collected the abundant pollen from the flower spikes, mixed it with water, and baked it into cakes called pungapunga.