Edible and Useful Plants-The Cattail

Finding Edible Plants
Some plants are known to be edible. Other plants you’re not going to be certain of. In some cases, eating meat is not possible and even when it is, there are some types of meat that you cannot eat alone without adding some vegetable matter to it to maintain your health. Things like wild blackberries, blueberries and raspberries are ideal sources of nutrition which can be found in the wild.

There are many edible plants growing wild and they are often a good source of food in survival situations. The trick of course is in knowing what is safe to consume and what is not. Whether you are in a survival situation or simply want to increase your knowledge of natural foods, nature has provided many plants that are not only edible, but delicious.
Finding Safe Vegetation

While there are a huge variety of plants that are edible, there are many more that are not. If you have any doubt about the identity of a plant, you should never eat it.
There are some types of plants that even the most experienced survivalist will hesitate to eat. Among the plants that you should avoid are any type of mushroom and any plant with foliage that resembles carrots, dill, or parsley. Some of these plants may be safe, but there are many poisonous plants that have the same general appearance.

One Safe and Edible Plant

One of the most useful plants in the wild that you can eat is also one of the easiest to identify.
Cattails grow almost anywhere that there is freshwater wetlands.
In North America they are known as cattails or punks while in England they may be referred to as bulrush or reedmace.
They were a staple for many Native American tribes and nearly all of the plant is edible.
In addition to this, unlike many other plants there is some part of the cattail that can be taken for food no matter what the season.

Recognizing Cattails and Using Them

In the springtime you can find a stand of cattails and cut the fresh shoots as they break through the mud.You will know them by their strategic leaf shape.

Cattails are quite strategically placed in most cases and you will further know them by the place where they grow–primarily damp and swampy areas. You’ll find cattails near ponds, creeks, swamps, along river banks and even near lacks or streams in many cases.

Once they are washed thoroughly they are safe to eat either cooked or raw. Identifying new shoots is seldom difficult because there are usually dried cattail heads from the old plants lying around the ground.
In the summer months the tender stems can be harvested. The bottom of the stems will be light green or white in color and will often come away at the base if pulled slowly.

When eaten raw they have a slight cucumber taste and when cooked they taste similar to corn.
When the flower heads are just beginning to form they can be picked and cooked. They can then be eaten like corn on the cob.

In the fall and winter months the roots can be located and dug up. Once the roots are cleaned they can be mashed with water and left to sit for a 2 or 3 hours. Pour off the watery mix and you are left with a starchy mass that can be used to make a sort of bread or used in soups and stews.

Other Uses for Cattails

Very few wild plants are as useful as the cattail. Even the dried heads that can’t be eaten will often come in handy as a fire starter. The fluffy inner core of the head will usually be dry even in wet weather. If pulled apart they become a fluffy mass that will light easily and be useful in building a fire for heat or cooking.

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