Aug. 8, 2021

broadleaf cat-tail, Typha latifolia

Cat-tails! All I need now is someone as far into their next childhood as I. If you've never had a cat-tail war, join us. What I'm talking about is, of course, whacking each other with ripe seed heads. It doesn't hurt too much, and produces wonderful puffs of fuzz. You can soon be covered with it. I can just hear Mom's reaction! Actually, cat-tails are a candidate for the most useful plant on the planet. They do lots of extremely important work in our wetlands. The North American Ethnobotany Databash includes 254 citations just for this species. The roots, young shoots and young flower heads are edible. I've tried the heads, and they are indeed edible. Not that I'm not glad I have other choices. The stems and leaves were used for mats and thatch. The pollen was used for baking and mush, and for medicine and magic. The leaves made good poultices. And all that puffy down makes good padding and mattresses. Shown here are partly ripe heads, with pistillate flowers below, on their way to ripening seed, and staminate flowers above, beginning to fall away. Broadleaf cat-tails grow everywhere on the continent except LB, GL, and SPM. Lenawee Co MI, 6/21/11. Cat-tail family, Typhaceae.