Totora (Schoenoplectus californicus ssp. tatora) is a subspecies of the giant bulrush sedge. It is found in South America - notably on Lake Titicaca - and on Easter island in the Pacific Ocean. The genus Schoenoplectus is closely related to Scirpus and sometimes included therein.
Some people say that totora plants are a main food of the Uros.
The Uros, an indigenous people predating the Incas, live on Lake Titicaca upon floating islands fashioned from this plant. The Uros also use the Totora plant to make boats (balsas) of the bundled dried plant reeds.
The Rapanui people of Easter island used Totora reeds - locally known as nga'atu - for thatching and to make pora swimming aids. These are used for recreation, and were formerly employed by hopu (clan champions) to reach offshore Motu Nui in the tangata manu ("bird-man") competition. How the plant arrived on the island is not clear; it might have brought there by drifting plants or by birds bearing seeds, but neither do the ocean currents run in a way that makes the former likely, nor are sedge seeds normally dispersed by birds. However, the Tupac Inca Yupanqui supposedly commanded a Pacific expedition around 1480, which - if it indeed happened - appears to have visited Easter Island. As living Totora plants were used by the Incas for thatching the roofs of their sea-going vessel, an introduction by means of visiting Inca ships would be possible. Lake sediment studies, while somewhat ambiguous, suggest that
"... there is no proof of the presence of totora on Easter Island before the 14th century.and are compatible with an introduction around 1480.