Narrow-Leaved Cattail (Typha anguvstifolia) is a plant everyone can identify. Cattails have very distinct flowers that look like fluffy hotdogs. Narrow-leaved cattail is similar to most cattail but there is a distinct gap between the upper and lower flowers. As for the plants edibility you can harvest the young shoots, stalk, flowers, pollen, and even roots. The shoots contain vitamins K and B6 and minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Medicinally it was used for dysentery, diarrhea, gonorrhea and infantile complaints.
If you’re into bushcraft then you might be interested to know that the plant was used to weave baskets, roofing, mats, rugs, and bedding. The silky down from the flower heads have been used as stuffing in pillows and to make a birds nest for fire starting. The heads were also dipped in oil or grease and used as a torch. Some have even used the stalk as an arrow shaft.
Keep your eyes and ears open and your powder dry!
Narrow-Leaved Cattail Sources:
Audubon Guides Box Set – Birds, Tree, Wildflowers & Mammals. Computer Software.Green Mountain Digital. Version: 2.3. Web. Jul 10, 2014.
Felter, Harvey Wickes, M.D., and John Uri Lloyd, Phr. M., Ph. D. King’s American Dispensatory, Vol. 2. Cincinnati: The Ohio Valley Company, 1905. pg. 2011-2012
Fernald, Merritt Lyndon & Alfred Charles Kinsey. Edible Wild Plants of Eastern North America. New York: Dover Publications, Inc. 1996. Print. pg. 82-85
Foster, Steven and James A. Duke. The Peterson Field Guide Series; A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs of Eastern and Central North America. 2nd. ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2000. Print. pg. 350-351
Moerman Daniel E., Native American Ethnobotany, Portland: Timber Press. 1998. Print. pg. 573
Newcomb, Lawrence. Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1977. Print. pg. 410-411
Peterson, Lee Allen. The Peterson Field Guide Series; A Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants; Eastern and Central North America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1977. Print. pg. 158-159
United States Department of Agriculture. Natural Resources Conservation Services. Web.