Medicinal and Edible Plant Guide: Cattail

  • Posted on: 9 October 2016
  • By: Jim jones

Cattail can be found in a variety of wetland habitats all over the Norther Hemisphere. It is easily recognizable by its brown flower spike and proximity to water.

The many uses for this plant can not be covered in a single article. This article is going to focus on the medicinal and edible uses for the Cattail in a survival situation.

Medicinal uses for Cattail:

  • Cattail has antiseptic qualities, which means it can ease minor pain from sun burn, insect bits, cuts and busies.
    Peal the stalk of its leaves and outer casing to reveal the stalk itself, then break the stalk open to access the slimy insides. You can rub this gel on your skin to act as a topical pain reliever.
  • Cattail has anti-septic and astringent(Stops bleeding) qualities.
    Again, get to the inner stalk of the Cattail and use your survival knife or fingernail to split the stalk down the length, and peal the skin from the stalk as though you were making a band-aid. You can then wrap this around the wounded area and bind it to keep from getting infected as well as stop minor bleeding

These same properties can be accessed by digging up the tuber and masticating the root ball. But this portion of the plant makes better eating.

Cattail as a Survival Food:

  • Young Cattail shoots can be peeled and hearts eaten raw or boiled and taste like asparagus
  • Through late Autumn to early Spring, you can dig up the root and eat this raw or boiled
  • In early Spring the flower spike can be boiled and eaten like corn on the cob.

Other Uses for Cattail in Survival Situations:

  • Break the brown flower spike of a Cattail open to access the fluffy dry fibers for use in a birds nest for fire
  • The leaves make for great cordage and weaving material
  • The same fluffy fibers from the flower spike can be added to Pine resin to make "glue" patching gear

 There are many uses for this plant and you can read more about them on the Wikipedia page.

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