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10 remarkably useful plants you can find in the wild

July 6, 2011, 9:30 a.m.
cattails

Photo: *clarity*/Flickr

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Cattails

These tall grasses can be found throughout the world and are some of the most useful plants in the wild. In fact, some people even refer to the cattail as the “Wal-Mart of the swamp.”

Cattails are found in marshy areas and are easy to identify by their characteristic brown seed heads. In the early spring, the plant’s roots can be eaten, and in the late spring and early summer, foragers can peel back the plant’s leaves to reveal the flower spikes, which can be eaten raw or cooked and have a taste similar to corn. Cattail pollen can also be collected from the seed head and substituted for flour.

In addition to providing a foraged feast, cattails also have several medicinal benefits. The gel found between leaves makes a topical anesthetic, and a poultice made from the roots can be applied to cuts, burns and stings. The leaves can also be woven into shelters, baskets and mats.