Photos of edible cattail roots & how to harvest them


Got some cattail roots this weekend. It was a messy business. I forgot a knife and had to do it with my bare hands. A piece of advice – don’t take only your hands (and head) with you, get something sharp as well.

I took some pictures of how to get to those roots. Like I noted earlier, you can eat these now, during fall. As well as in winter!



Clean the soil around the cattail base. Free the roots by pulling on them (without breaking) trying to get as much as possible from the soil. Separate from the parent with a knife













Edible cattail roots - peel

Peel the top layer of the roots. Inside, you will find the white powdery starch along the strands of the fibers. That’s what you want to stuff your hungry belly with when caught in interesting situations














On the first photo, you can see that I labeled that pointy cute thing as “corm”. Corms grow off the main roots. These are cattail shoots. They will emerge into little cattail plants next spring.



Corms taste like inner cattail stalks. Like a blend of cucumber and zucchini, if you remember.



Roots are very starchy. You can see this white powdery-granular substance along the strands of the root fibers. It’s nearly all starch. For this reason roots are more filling than corms. That’s what you want to focus on if you are looking for calories. In flavor, the starch is subtle, almost neutral. It reminds me of boiled mashed potatoes cooked without any oil or salt, and then left overnight in the fridge. Raw, without anything, I don’t think you would want it for dinner. There is just hardly any taste to it. But I guess you can put it in whatever it is you are making where thick consistency won’t hurt. For example, soups. The starch will add more calories to your meal plus make it more savory. Although I didn’t try putting it anywhere yet. If you come up with some nice raw dish from it maybe share it with me. Just so you know, traditionally, the cattail roots are boiled, much like potatoes, but that’s not an option for us.


At the end of the day, one aspect is certain about cattail roots. If you are faced with the goal to survive, and it’s freezing cold, but there is a bunch of cattails around, you are pretty much covered! Your chances of losing your life from starvation are near zero.

All right, so. Why don’t you roll up your sleeves and get some mud on your face when passing by a swamp next time? It’s healthy and entertaining. And, who knows, the skill might turn out useful one time ( let’s hope not :0 ).








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