** If there is one thing I must convey here is that if you are unsure of what you are touching or going to consume DO NOT ** get the correct books or do the research before you venture out. As in most cases a very small nibble or portion could/can kill you. **
Description: Cattails are grass like plants with strap-shaped leaves 1 to 5 centimeters wide and growing up to 1.8 meters tall. The male flowers are borne in a dense mass above the female flowers. These last only a short time, leaving the female flowers that develop into the brown
cattail. Pollen from the male flowers is often abundant and bright yellow.
The green hull surrounding the nut contains a resinous irritant poison that will blister the lips and tongue like poison ivy. Heat destroys this poison when roasting the nuts.
Habitat and Distribution: Cattails are found throughout most of the world. Look for them in full sun areas at the margins of lakes, streams, canals, rivers, and brackish water.
Edible Parts: The young tender shoots are edible raw or cooked. The rhizome is often very tough but is a rich source of starch. Pound the rhizome to remove the starch and use as a flour. The pollen is also an exceptional source of starch. When the cattail is immature and still green, you can boil the female portion and eat it like corn on the cob. I prefer the shoots best of all, sauteed in a skillet or wok if you have one
Other Uses: The dried leaves are an excellent source of weaving material you can use to make floats and rafts. The cottony seeds make good pillow stuffing and insulation. The fluff makes excellent tinder. Dried cattails are effective insect repellents when burned. The dried shafts can be used to make arrows or spears from. Bundle them together and let dry on a flat dry surface
(the only photo I have of is from the fall)