The medicinal uses of cattails include poultices made from the split and bruised roots that can be applied to cuts, wounds, burns, stings, and bruises. The ash of the burned cattail leaves can be used as an antiseptic or styptic for wounds. A small drop of a honey-like excretion, often found near the base of the plant, can be used as an antiseptic for small wounds and toothaches.
The utility of this cattail is limited only by your imagination. The dried stalks can be used for hand drills and arrow shafts. The seed heads and dried leaves can be used as tinder. The seed head fluff can be used for pillow and bedding stuffing or as a down-like insulation in clothing. The leaves can be used for construction of shelters or for woven seats and backs of chairs, which has been a traditional use for hundreds of years.
They can be woven into baskets, hats, mats, and beds. The dried seed heads attached to their stalks can be dipped into melted animal fat or oil and used as torches.
The cattailís every part has uses. Itís easy to harvest, very tasty, and highly nutritious. It was a major staple for the American Indians, who found it in such great supply, they didnít need to cultivate it. The settlers missed out when they ignored this great food and destroyed its habitats, instead of cultivating it.
The shoot provide beta carotene, niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, potassium, phosphorus, and vitamin C. When the male flowers ripen, just before the summer solstice, they produce considerable quantities of golden pollen. People pay outrageous prices in health stores for tiny capsules of the bee pollenóa source of minerals, enzymes, protein, and energy. Cattail pollen beats the commercial variety in flavor, energy content, freshness, nutrition, and price. To collect the pollen in its short season, wait for a few calm days, so your harvest isn’t scattered by wind. Bend the flower heads into a large paper bag and shake it gently. Keep the bagís opening as narrow as possible, so the pollen won’t blow away. Sift out the trash, and use the pollen as golden flour in baking breads, muffins, pancakes, or waffles. It doesn’t rise, and it’s time-consuming to collect in quantity, so I generally mix it with at least three times as much whole-grain flour. You can also eat the pollen raw, sprinkled on yogurt, fruit shakes, oatmeal, and salads. The cattail is the all in all product for great nutrition or for medicinal needs.