Before modern development began destroying the habitat of cattails, American Indians used the nutritious plant in a myriad ways:
- When peeled, the white heart of the shoot is similar to heart of palm and can be used in stir fries, soups, salads, or sauteed as a side vegetable.
- Immature flower heads can be eaten like a corn cob.
- The super-nutritious pollen can be added to flour for baking.
- The jelly-like substance found between leaves can be used medicinally to heal wounds.
- Dried leaves can be twisted or woven into cordage, baskets, thatched rooves, toys for children.
- The empty seed heads keep insects away when burnt on a fire.
- The fluffy white seeds make good stuffing for additional warmth in bedding and clothes.
That's pretty impressive for a single plant.