Book X, Chapter VII
Of the canes and reeds of this Island of Hispaniola.
Translated by Lizabeth Paravisini-Gebert
There are many types of canes on this island, solid and thick, many of them like the shaft of a lance and much taller than long pikes; but as I have said, they are all solid, and good for building the Indians’ bohios or huts, and even the Christians use them for many things. They are common on this island and in all the Indies. The soil where the canes grow is fertile and very good for planting the Indians’ corn and to turn into conucos or plots for the other things they cultivate and sow. There are also a lot of reeds in the lakes and marshes and in many riverbanks on this island. These are thin, like those used for reed pens; the Carib Indians make arrows out of them, and they decorate their houses and braid them, arranging the reed in very attractive overlapping patterns. But they are not the type of reed that is good for writing, of which there are some in this Island of Hispaniola, but very few.
Image: Chromolithograph of Typhus latifolia from ‘The Flowering Plants, Grasses, Sedges & Ferns of Great Britain’ by Anne Pratt in 1899.