Cattail

Typha spp.

  • tender, white inner part of shoots/plants is edible raw.

  • cattail pollen is bright yellow and can be gathered by shaking a pollen-laden spike into a bag, which yelds about one tablespoon of powder.

  • pollen can be used as flour, suitable for pancakes, etc.

  • pollen is available to gather before the plant develops its long, brown cylinder resembling a hotdog on a stick.

  • green flower spikes can be cooked and eaten like corn on cob.

  • starchy white core of rhizome can be eaten raw.

  • white core can be boiled, baked, or dried and ground into flour, or boiled into syrup.

  • roots can be peeled and crushed under water, the fibers strained out and the starch washed in several changes of water.

  • fluff from the brown-cylinder can be burned to separate and parch the seeds, which are edible.

  • varieties in the Pacific Northwest include Common cattail (Typha latifolia) and Narrow-leaved cattail (Typha angustifolia).

  • look for cattails growing on the shores of lakes and ponds, in flooded areas and in ditches.

  • warning: do not confuse young cattail shoots with members of the iris family such as Western blue flag (Iris missouriensis). Mature plants are different enough to avoid confusion.

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