Monday, May 17, 2010

Cattail Soup

On our hike at Beaver Meadow, we walked through a swamp, loaded with cattails. I've always loved the brown, dried out remnants of the prior years' bounty. The symmetrical tail in the fall is transformed to this blob that reminds me of a matted dog coming in from the rain.

Getting this close, I wonder if anyone has used the cattail fiber in spinning or weaving. Off to Google I go. Yes, some have spun cattail fiber. Interested in Cattail Paper? This is an old article about other uses for cattail fiber.

Here are some other ideas:

The leaves were twisted together and formed into rings to use between the neck of a draft horse and the collar to provide a cushion.
The down was combined with ashes and lime to make a cement said to be quite strong.
The seeds are said to kill mice.
The flour of the root has been fermented to produce an ethyl alcohol.
The fibers of the stem were once used to make a burlap fabric.
An adhesive was obtained from the stems.
The fuzz (down) was compressed for insulation.
The seeds were once processed for oil and the residue fed to chickens.

And if you have access to live cattails, perhaps you would like to try Cattail Fried Rice? Or perhaps you are on the raw diet and would be up for the challenge of Raw Cattail Soup?

It also carries medicinal benefits:

In Chinese traditional medicine the dried yellow pollen of several species is used uncooked as an anticoagulant and the cooked pollen as a coagulant. The pollen is also roasted over a slow fire until black and used as a wound dressing to stop bleeding; has been combined with Cuttlefish bone for bleeding injuries. The pollen has been used to treat bloody urine, other urinary problems, angina, amenorrhea, painful menses, postpartum pain, abscess (combined with honey), abdominal pain, tapeworms, vomiting of blood, internal bleeding, cancer of the lymphatic system. The underground stem has been used as a tonic, febrifuge, diuretic, lactogogue, and to treat dysentary. Also: the pollen has been combined with honey and applied to painful swellings and sores.

Who knew???

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