From the Native Indian Wild Game, Fish & Wild Foods Cookbook

Cattail Spikes




Gather green cattail spikes in early spring. Clean off in cold water. Place in pot and cover with water; boil for 10-15 minutes. Drain and serve with butter. Eat like corn on the cob


2 cups cattail flour

Vegetable oil

1 tsp. salt


2 cups water


Scrape and clean several cattail roots. Place on lightly greased cookie in 200 F oven to dry overnight. Skin roots and remove fibers. Pound roots until fine. Allow to stand overnight to dry. In a saucepan, bring salted water to a boil. Remove from heat and fold in flour. Beat until mixture forms a thick paste. Cool to room temp. In a deep fryer, heat about 3" of oil to about 400F or until smoking. Spoon out dough onto floured cookie sheet to form a cake 1/4" thick. Cut ribbons 1/2" wide x 5" long and lift into hot oil. Deep fry for 3 minutes or until golden brown, turning at least once. Lift out and drain on paper towel. Serve hot topped with honey.

Typha (cattail) has had many uses: the roots contain starch and have been used to make flour. They are frequently consumed by Europeans as an asparagus-like vegetable. The down has been used to dress wounds, stuff jackets and as a filling for upholstery. During World War I, it was used to manufacture artificial silk, as a substitute for cotton. Even the small seeds have been harvested as a source of drying oil. The leaves are use in basketry.

From Native Tech

The roots may be ground into a flour. The sticky sap between the leaves is an excellent starch and can be used to thicken soups and broth. The white colored shoots at the base of the leaf clusters can be boiled or steamed or sliced and eaten raw in salads.

The central part of the root and lower stalk, which is mainly starch, was dried and ground into meal by several tribes of Indians and by the early white settlers. The white tender lower parts of the stem and leaves may be eaten in salads. The cattail leaves are used for weaving, for caulking seams in boats, and for caulking between the staves of barrels. The stalk heads, or "cat tails", are edible if roasted when young; when mature and dry they can be dipped in oil and used for torches; during the last war they were processed to substitute for Kapok in life preservers and mattresses.

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