The Gorgeousness of Typha latifolia – Cattail!

Since I was a child, I simply adored cattail. I would use the fluff to make a soft bed for all the traumatized mice I rescued from the neighbour’s cat. He would never eat them, just torture them. And then I lined their graves with it, after they died from the shock or injuries, along with other soft or fragrant plants I foraged.

In this video I show you why I am so enamoured with this beautiful, magical plant. For me, it’s all about the fluff!

What can I make from cattail?

Did you know that the long flat leaves of the common cattail (Typha latifolia) can be used to make mats, baskets, and chair seats?

Cattail fluff can be used for several things: It can be stuffed into a pillowcase for a soft pillow. It can be used for padding to sit or sleep on. It is also water repellant, so can be used to make a homemade life jacket.

The Colville Indians of Eastern Washington used to weave sleeping bags of cattail reeds and stuff them with the down. They didn’t have a plentiful supply of thick furred animals to use for insulation in the winter, so cattail helped them out.

Cattail fluff is also highly flammable, so it makes great tinder when you need to start a fire.

Can I eat cattail?

The starchy roots in Fall can be eaten and are as nutritious as a potato. The spring shoots can be peeled and eaten raw (taste like cucumber) or cooked (taste like asparagus).

Cattail pollen can be used as flour (sweet, nutty flavor) so it works well in pancakes or biscuits.

For more details on how to prepare and eat cattail, check out this excellent video.

The environmental benefits of cattail

Cattail stems catch and slow water and help trap sediment and silt. In this way they can help slow erosion and also help form a beneficial ecosystem.

Cattail roots harbor microorganisms that help break down organic materials, like algae. So they are good for pond health.

Cattails can also remove polluting materials from the water surrounding their roots.

Cattail References:


  1. Heather April 10, 2024 at 7:20 am - Reply

    Very cool. I have these popping up everywhere in my boggy yard and near ponds I’ve made. Thanks for showing us how special they are. Very sweet about the mice too.

    • JINI April 10, 2024 at 9:29 pm - Reply

      Lucky you Heather! I may attempt a cattail reed basket this year… could be fun :)

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Jini Head



I am. an international bestselling author, health product formulator, horse listener, earth singer, mother, entrepreneur, medicine woman, fungi friend, elephant acolyte and regenerative farmer.

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