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Yes, Cattails Are Edible!

Updated on September 1, 2009

Cattails Are A Natural & Nutritious Treat!

 Cattails are the tall, brown reeds that you often see growing beside ponds and marshes. The tapered tops, when pulled apart, contain white tufts of seeds that resemble cotton. Almost every part of this plant, all the way from the starchy roots to its corn like buds and later the flour-like pollen, is edible and extremely good for your health.

The growing season for cattails begins in the spring and they start out as hot dog shaped protrusions which soon blossom into many feminine flowers.

Cattails are readily available near ponds and marshes.
Cattails are readily available near ponds and marshes.

Cattails Can Be Utilized For Insulation!

 In the old days, cattails were used as insulation. It was built into the walls of the house and barn. They would also sew two blankets together, stuff them with cattail down, and cross stitch it, to keep it in place. At the end of the season, they would cut the blankets open, sew the seed in the marshes and bogs, and reseed them for the next year.

Cattail paste may help soothe burns and cuts.
Cattail paste may help soothe burns and cuts.

Cattails Are Great For A Variety Of Uses

There are many other uses for cattails that include the following:

  • The head, or top, can be used as a torch. Soak it in torch oil for about ten minutes and then ignite.
  • Place burning cattails around a patio to ward off mosquitoes and other insects. You may also add them to a campfire for the same effect.
  • Cut open the stalk to reveal a sticky juice that can be used as salve for cuts and abrasions. This salve also makes a good antiseptic and coagulant agent.
  • You can make cattail flour by boiling the roots, mashing them like potatoes, removing the fibers and spreading them on a cookie sheet to dry in the sun or in a low oven. Once dry, put through a grinder.
  • Mix cattail flour with water to form a paste for spreading on burns, rashes, insect bites and stings. You can also use this paste for brushing your teeth.
  • Combine cattail flour with vegetable oil and use as a conditioner to treat hair and scalp problems.
  • Cattail flour can be used as a thickening agent in soups or gravies. It is known to be highly nutritious.
  • Chewing the fuzzy seeds will relieve nervousness and stress.

Add a handful of dried cranberries to your muffins for a sweet treat.
Add a handful of dried cranberries to your muffins for a sweet treat.

Make A Tasty Flour From Cattails

 Cattail flour can be used in combination with wheat flour in many baked goods. Here is a recipe for cattail muffins that are low fat, low cholesterol, no yeast, no sugar and great tasting too! They are very nutritious for you as they're high in nutrients, a natural prevention for nervousness and they aid in stress reduction.

Ingredients:

1 cup    Cattail flour (found in most health food stores or you can make your own)
1 cup    Whole wheat flour
2 tsp     Baking powder
½ tsp    Salt
1           Egg
1 ½ c.   Milk
¼ cup   Sunflower oil
¼ cup   Honey
1 tsp     Vanilla


Preheat oven to 400 Degrees. Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Stir in the wet ingredients, careful no to over mix. Grease muffin tins or use paper liners and fill about 2/3 full. Bake for 20 minutes.

Makes about 2 dozen. Enjoy!

Cattails Have Many Uses

 Disclaimer: The information on this Hub page does not constitute medical, legal, commercial, product, and/or service advice or endorsement of any vendor, supplier and/or brand, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the author. Listing of an entity or service on this Hub page is not a warranty of the quality or efficacy of the products or services furnished by any entity. The author is not directly compensated by any entity other than the advertising placement services shown on this page.

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    • profile image

      janet 

      5 years ago

      does anyone know the answer to this: growing up in NY we used to burn "punks" to keep the mosquitoes away. the smell was nice...is that a cattail? or something else?

    • profile image

      chris 

      7 years ago

      Cattails are awesome. I even use them for handrill fires and when the seasons is right, I harvest the yellow pollen and make pancakes :) I might like to add that anyone eating the cattail should be completely aware of where they are eating them from. Cattail filters literally everything and is often used to filter waste from some facilities.

    • profile image

      donnie smith 

      7 years ago

      i have lots of cat tails in my pond i will pick them and eat them now i know they are etable. thanks for the tips

    • Hal Licino profile imageAUTHOR

      Hal Licino 

      8 years ago from Toronto

      Absolutely true about the reseeding, but I was referring to the traditional way of doing it, whether or not it has anything to do with the actual biology of the plant. Cattails rule! :)

    • profile image

      David Booth 

      8 years ago

      This silly old yarn about cattail quilts being cut open each spring must stop. Cattails do not need to be reseeded each spring. They are perennial, and spread primarily by underground rizomes. Unless it was part of some spiritual ceremonial act, no one would bother to undo their hard work for nothing. Having said that, cattail fuzz does make fabulous insulation. It is incredible that this plant has not been selectively bred, and better utilized for what could be dozens of purposes.

    • Hal Licino profile imageAUTHOR

      Hal Licino 

      9 years ago from Toronto

      I'm not telling you until you tell me where you'd disappeared to! Misha and I had surmised that you had been taken away on some merchant marine ship as a galley slave! :)

    • Kika Rose profile image

      Kika Rose 

      9 years ago from Minnesota

      ... Hal, what the heck's a wellie? o_O

    • Hal Licino profile imageAUTHOR

      Hal Licino 

      9 years ago from Toronto

      I'll be out there in my wellies early next year trying to get them when they're just right! Enjoy!

    • ButterflyWings profile image

      ButterflyWings 

      9 years ago

      Sure will, there's nothing like them. My mother, after I introduced her to a few of their possibilities, likes to use a little in most of her baked goods, for their added texture and nutritional value.

      Good hub. I had only heard vaguely about using mashed up cattail as a salve before now, and I've never yet managed to get out early enough in the spring to collect shoots to use like vegetables. Maybe next year...

    • Hal Licino profile imageAUTHOR

      Hal Licino 

      9 years ago from Toronto

      Did you know that there is a contest for the ugliest kitchen counter? I thought mine would win! Anyway, pic's gone already! Thanks and keep on chowin' down on those cattails! :)

    • ButterflyWings profile image

      ButterflyWings 

      9 years ago

      I don't care if you use the picture, it's not like it's sacred. I was just surprised to see it. I've never seen anybody else with quite as ugly a linoleum counter. ;-)

    • Hal Licino profile imageAUTHOR

      Hal Licino 

      9 years ago from Toronto

      Hi Butterfly Wings. I have lots of creeksides in my area with thousands of cattails, and I've just checked out your recipe and it sounds much nicer than mine! :) I'm going to try it this weekend. Sorry about the pic and I'll replace it ASAP! Thanks!

    • ButterflyWings profile image

      ButterflyWings 

      9 years ago

      You borrowed the muffin picture off my blog! The kids and I had fun making those from the cattail fuzz (not the so-called flour), and my son actually asked for a birthday cake made along the same lines.

      Hal, have you actually eaten cattails, or is this another "commercial" hub?

      For any interested readers, here's a link to my original cattail fuzz muffin recipe:

      http://joilene.wordpress.com/2008/11/15/cattail-cr...

    • ethel smith profile image

      Ethel Smith 

      9 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      How interesting. I had never heard of any of these uses before.

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