- 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 are
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.