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Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
▪ Grabbing fruitlessly at bulrush stalks, which snap like chicken bones, he crashes face down into the mud.
▪ Grasping a handful of bulrushes to steady herself, she leaned precariously out to grab it.
▪ In the distance, between the bulrush plumes, a bridge across the stream can be seen among the foliage.
▪ MacAdams would let the bulrushes and willows grow.
▪ The surrounding carved stonework contained the date, and in the middle were metal panels displaying a dolphin with bulrushes.
▪ Upstream from Leamington Spa, the river Leam flows lazily among waterlilies and tall bulrushes.
The Collaborative International Dictionary

cattail \cat"tail\, Cat-tail \Cat"-tail\(k[a^]t"t[=a]l), n. (Bot.) A tall erect rush or flag ( Typha latifolia) growing widely in fresh and salt marshes, with long, flat, sword-shaped leaves, having clusters of small brown flowers in a dense cylindrical spike at the top of the stem; -- called also bulrush and reed mace. The leaves are frequently used for seating chairs, making mats, etc. See Catkin.

Note: The lesser cat-tail is Typha angustifolia.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

also bullrush, type of tall plant growing in or near water (in Biblical use, the Egyptian papyrus), mid-15c., bolroysche, from rush (n.); the signification of bull is doubtful.


n. 1 Any of several wetland plants, mostly in the family Cyperaceae (the sedges): 2 # (context Americas English) sedges in the genera (taxlink Bolboschoenus genus noshow=1) or (taxlink Schoenoplectus genus noshow=1) (formerly considered ''Scirpus''), having clusters of spikelets. 3 # (context UK English) cattail or reedmace, in the genus (taxlink Typha genus noshow=1) 4 # (context biblical English) A plant referred to in the story of Moses as growing along the banks of the Nile, which is believed to be the papyrus, (taxlink Cyperus papyrus species noshow=1).

  1. n. tall marsh plant with cylindrical seed heads that explode when mature shedding large quantities of down; its long flat leaves are used for making mats and chair seats; of North America, Europe, Asia and North Africa [syn: cat's-tail, bullrush, nailrod, reed mace, reedmace, Typha latifolia]

  2. tall rush with soft erect or arching stems found in Eurasia, Australia, New Zealand, and common in North America [syn: bullrush, common rush, soft rush, Juncus effusus]

Bulrush (disambiguation)

Bulrush or bullrush is a common name for any of several wetland plants, mostly in the Cyperaceae family.

Bulrush may also refer to:

  • HMS Bullrush (K307), former name of HMCS Mimico (K485)
  • Bullrush (game), another name for the children's game British bulldogs
  • "Bull-Rush", a song by Paul Weller from the 1992 album '' Paul Weller
  • Bullrush, one of eleven Reedling keelboats
  • Bullrush, a technique by mixed martial artist Bob Sapp

Bulrushes is the vernacular name, tules is a local moniker, and buggy whips is slang for several large wetland grass-like plants in the sedge family ( Cyperaceae).

The name is particularly applied to several sedge family genera:

  • Cyperus, the genus which includes the plant species likely referred to in the Biblical account of the Ark of bulrushes
  • Scirpus a genus commonly known as bulrushes in North America, which in previous circumscriptions has also included species now classified in the genera:
    • Blysmus
    • Bolboschoenus
    • Isolepis
    • Schoenoplectus
    • Trichophorum

Outside of the sedge family, the name is used for Typha, a genus in the Typhaceae family. The Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland recommends "bulrush" as a common name for plants in the genus Typha. However, these species are widely known as reed mace in the United Kingdom.

One particular famous story involving bulrushes is that of the ark of bulrushes. In this story, it is said that the infant Moses was found in a boat made of bulrushes. Within the context of the story, this is probably paper reed ( Cyperus papyrus).

When fish make beds over bulrush, they sweep away the sand, exposing the roots. This dense region of roots provides excellent cover for young fish.

Usage examples of "bulrush".

By degrees bulrushes of enormous growth become visible, and a few more miles of mud brought us within sight of a cluster of huts called the Balize, by far the most miserable station that I ever saw made the dwelling of man, but I was told that many families of pilots and fishermen lived there.

I pushed the raft down the stream and gathered arrowleaf bulbs, cattail tubers, bulrush roots, and the nutlike tubers of the sedges.

I never thought to see Culicidae heretheir clans dwell mainly in Mirrinor, where they lay their egg-rafts among the bulrushes in the long lakes and the swamps.

The primitive quality of it intrigued me, the fact that though thousands of years had passed since baby Moses was placed in his basket of bulrushes and set afloat on the Nile, the technique of basket-making remained much the same.

For several miles above its mouth, the Mississippi presents no objects more interesting than mud banks, monstrous bulrushes, and now and then a huge crocodile luxuriating in the slime.

Two or three heavy jumps landed him, not among the bulrushes, as he had hoped, but in a pool of muddy water, where he sank up to his middle with alarming rapidity.

Lindsay, finishing between a cow that judged and a clump of bulrushes representing the Grand Stand.

The green tops and young roots, baked in the coals along with the sweet rhizomes of the sweetflag and the underwater base of the bulrushes, supplied the beginning of a meal.

The men made flexible mats of the large, soft-stemmed bulrushes, then used them to extend the lean-to and to wrap around themselves while they dried their wet clothes.

No fish were to be found in the temporary bodies of water, unless they happened to become part of a year-round river or stream, but amid the roots of tall phragmite reeds, bulrushes, sedges, and cattails swam the tadpoles of edible frogs and fire-bellied toads.

There were stands of bulrushes, dried now, rustling in the breeze and making a pleasant sound that was almost musical.

As she had been in the spring, Hannah became her teacher once again, pointing out the flocks of robins and chickadees gorging in preparation for their flight south, half-built muskrat shelters woven with cattails and bulrushes, a red-bellied snake working its way into an abandoned anthill where it would sleep through the cold.

First, saved from waters of old Nile, among bulrushes, a bed of fasciated wattles: at last the cavity of a mountain, an occulted sepulchre amid the conclamation of the hillcat and the ossifrage.

Sedge corms had been harvested, too, and there were peeled water-lily stems and the very new, white shoots of the bulrush, to be eaten raw.

It was tangled in some bulrushes in a swamp beside a forest out there, found by some kids shooting BB guns.