Cattails are useful in many ways in survival situations

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I was at a home a few years ago where I was invited by a member of Kiwanis, a great service group, to see how this gentleman had worked with the conditions in his yard to provide a sustainable environment and keep it attractive the same time. weather. This wonderful yard had both serious shade conditions and a small swamp. These two elements could be a source of costly corrections and continuous adjustments. The amount of soil to fill the swamp would not be small at all. Correcting the shade may be cheaper by removing all the trees, but it would never achieve the desired results by removing the shade and the trees.

Compromise is an art that age and wisdom bring when we discover that I don’t always have to do what I want. I sincerely commend this gentleman for his wisdom and his work with the environment rather than against it. With this knowledge, I believe we should view weeds more as a potential opportunity than an enemy. As I was driving near a swamp this week and noticed the cattail seed heads changing, I wondered what hidden potential we might be missing when looking at different plants. Weeds and weed control are always from the homeowner’s point of view and should be viewed in light of these facts.

An example of cattails you might find near a yard.  In winter, the cattails go dormant and the shoots turn brown and decay.

Broad-leaved cattails or Typha latifolia was one of the best Native American survival tools because it met three of the basic needs of each of us. When the tops of cattails go to seed, they develop these almost white seed parachutes. This dandelion-like material has been used for many centuries to start fires, along with the dry cane and leaves. If you weave the leaves together and use the dried stems as support structures, you can use this material for a form of temporary shelter.

All four seasons you can find something on this plant to eat. In early spring, you can eat the tender sprouts, raw or cooked, before the sprouts break the water level. Pickle them and they taste like salted cucumbers. As the seed heads develop, the actual cattail, you can boil the cattail in a pot of hot water and eat it like corn on the cob – and it tastes a little like corn itself . As the seed heads develop in early summer, the pollen can be collected and included in baked goods. Pollen is packed with protein and improves the nutritional value of the bread you can bake. Seeds left in late summer and early fall can be harvested, roasted and winnowed. These seeds can also be eaten. Winter was a tough season for Native Americans, but cattails can be ground into flour for cooking needs by cleaning the roots as best you can, drying the root stalk that remains, pounding the dried root stalk, and finally by allowing the starch to fall naturally from the fibers to the bottom of a bowl filled with water.

The jelly you find inside the young leaves, which is a natural antiseptic, can also be used to treat wounds and other skin problems such as boils and sores. This same jelly can relieve inflammation. Our antiseptic jelly eliminates foreign agents, pathogens and even microbes. If you ingest this jelly, you will find that this herb is also known as a powerful pain reliever and helps get rid of the pain you have. Cattail root can be used in a poultice for burns and wounds. The down from the flowers can be used to help bandage wounds and reduce irritation caused by wounds. Various parts of this cattail have blood clotting properties, which also means it can be used to prevent anemia. Insect bites can also be treated with jelly. Young cattail flowers can be eaten to help cure diarrhea. When the brown flower head is burned, it can produce an insect repellent.

Cattails can be found in bogs or other areas that remain moist during the growing season.

In a survival situation, I think this plant is a goldmine. Most people nowadays want to get rid of swamps and cattails. I don’t understand this limited view. We may need some changes in our thought patterns. Designing a garden based strictly on aesthetics means you can miss out on some of the benefits of native plants. If you’ve designed your little swamp and got rid of cattails, you may not be able to drink some of the liquid from this plant and get some relief from the pain you’re feeling. Hope this helps you re-evaluate your goals when designing your gardens.

I hope you have a nice walk in the garden today. If you see any issues that need fixing, email me at [email protected] You can find blog links at ohiohealthyfoodcoopoperative.org where you can soon leave your comments. We are looking for followers on our Facebook pages.

Eric Larson of Jeromesville is a seasoned landscaper and gardening enthusiast and a founding board member of the Ohio Chapter of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers.


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