Cattails, Credit: larslentz/Signature Collection/Getty Images


  • 1 to 3 m in height
  • Leaves long, slender and stiff
  • Flowers forming tight cylindrical clusters


  • Marshes, lakes and streams with calm waters

Harvesting Time

  • Spring for flowers and pollen, fall to early spring for roots and shoots

Uses and Related Information

  • The core of tastes similar to cucumber and can be eaten raw, boiled sautéed or fried
  • When green, flower heads can be steamed or roasted once the stalk and papery outer layer are removed
  • The pollen can be collected by shaking the flower head into a bag then sifting the contents to separate the pollen, and can be used in both savoury and sweet recipes

    early cattail leaves, Credit: Liz West CC BY 2.0Cautions

Ensure that you have correctly identified this plant before eating it, because young cattails may be mistaken for some members of the Iris family, which are poisonous.

Avoid cattails growing in stagnant water area due to their unappealing taste and uptake of contaminants

Do not eat brown flower heads