Cattail (typha latifolia)
Cattails are found in streams, marshes, ponds, swamps, and ditches.
The young shoots, the roots, the young flower spike and the pollen are all edible.
Here is an excerpt from Marilyn Walker’s book “Wild Plants of Eastern Canada”
“In the early days of New England, cattails were harvested for use as mats and baskets by First Nations. They were used to pad seams in boats and for packing material between barrels. First Nations in the region made flour, high in protein and carbohydrates, from the roots. The young shoots can be prepared like asparagus, but need a longer cooking time to make them tender. The starchy root stalks make nutritious flour. The fluffy “wool” was used by First Nations as a natural “diaper” because of it’s softness and absorbency.
The lower parts of the leaves can be eaten as a salad ingredient, the young stems can be eaten raw or boiled, and the young flowers, or cattails, can be roasted. The yellow pollen can be added to pancake or waffle recipe, imparting a beautiful golden colour. To gather pollen in late summer, place a plastic bag over the cattail heads and shake. If the pollen is ready, you’ll see lots of fine yellow powder spilling into the bag.”