Cattail facts and health benefits

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Cattail facts and health benefits

Cattail Quick Facts
Name: Cattail
Scientific Name: Typha latifolia
Origin Throughout the temperate northern hemisphere
Colors Green while young and turns brown and fuzzy after mature
Shapes Dry, dehiscent, ellipsoid follicle with long hairs containing large numbers of seeds
Calories 5 Kcal./cup
Major nutrients Manganese (6.26%)
Vitamin K (3.58%)
Magnesium (2.86%)
Total dietary Fiber (2.37%)
Iron (2.13%)
Health benefits Improves digestion, Calorie rich, Skin Health, Hypertension, Diabetes, Cancer Prevention, Atherosclerosis, Cardio tonic and lipid-lowering effects, Antiseptic Application, Steady increase in energy, Slow Bleeding
More facts about Cattail
Typha latifolia also known as Cattail, Lesser Bulrush, Lesser Reed-Mace, Nail- Rod, Narrow-Leaf Cattail, Narrow leaf Cattail, Reed-Mace, Small Reed-Mace and Small Bulrush is actually a slender perennial aquatic emergent plant native throughout the temperate northern hemisphere. Although many of us probably have seen cattails growing on the edges of lakes and marshes and have never considered that it can be a very valuable addition to your diet, as it provides a wealth of unique nutrients and medicinal properties, many of which have been trusted on for hundreds of years. Though most people aren’t even mindful that this plant can be eaten, the rhizomes of the cattail can be consumed, as well as the leaf bases and the sheath. At different times in the growth period, every part of a cattail is eaten in certain way. However it is not recommended to eat the cattail you see, you can find certain cattail products, like flour, in specialty health stores in some parts of the world. It must be consumed cautiously.


Cattail is a slender perennial aquatic emergent plant, 1.5–2 m tall. It is found growing in shallow fresh water of lakes, rivers, ponds, marshes and ditches in valley marshes, coastal sites at low elevation. It has dense fibrous root with branched creeping rhizomes, 2–4 cm in diameter, commonly 70 cm or even longer, with dense fibrous root masses occurring at the base of stems and at rhizome nodes. Stems are unbranched and cylindrical, 100–200 cm, with long (60–100 cm), linear, narrow leaves, 5–10 mm wide and deep green. Leaves are basal, erect, linear, flat, D-shaped in cross section; 10 mm to 20 mm wide and 1 to 3 meters in length; 12-16 leaves arise from each vegetative shoot. Linear leaves are thick, ribbon-like structures and are pale grayish-green in color.

The spike-like, terminal, cylindric inflorescence has staminate flowers above and pistillate flowers below with a naked axis between the staminate and pistillate flowers. Flowering normally takes place from May to July depending, perhaps, on soil and water temperatures as influenced by climate and litter in a stand. Fruit are dry, dehiscent, ellipsoid follicle with long hairs containing large numbers of seeds. They are normally green during early summer and turn brown and fuzzy in the fall and following spring. They contain small pendulous seeds, with a straight, narrow embryo 0.2 millimeters (0.008 in) long, and attached to fine hairs.


T. latifolia is a cosmopolitan plant, occurring in wetlands through most temperature zones in North America, Europe and Asia, and many subtropical areas. It has also begun to invade the few regions where it is not native, like Oceania, South-East Asia and the Hawaiian islands. Due to its distinctive shape and size as well as growing habit it is found growing throughout the world with appropriate growing climate.

Nutritional value

Apart from their distinctive taste, cattail is a good source of nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Consuming 19 gram of cattail offers 0.144 mg of Manganese, 4.3 µg of Vitamin K, 12 mg of Magnesium, 0.9 g of Total dietary Fiber, 0.17 mg of Iron, 0.023 mg of Vitamin B6 and 21 mg of Sodium.

Health benefits of Cattail

Cattail is one of the healthy and nutrients dense plants which are grown throughout the world. Some of the popular health benefits of consuming cattail are listed below in detail:

1. Improves digestion

Cattail consists of good amount of both soluble and insoluble fiber which is essential for improving the digestion process. Soluble fibers counter the absorption of cholesterol and insoluble fiber encourage the movement of waste out of the system. This leads to reduced chances of constipation or even hemorrhoids. So include cattail in your diet to reduce all the digestion related problems.

2. Calorie rich

In case you are underweight and want to gain some weight, a mixture of Cattails rich diet together with a wholesome meal is the best method. Cattail being rich in carbohydrates and calories enables the weight gain process. Therefore it is one of the fruitful options for underweight people to gain required body weight.

3. Skin Health

Cattail consists of huge amount of nutrients and organic compounds which contributes to its effect on the skin, mainly its ability to heal boils, sores, and decrease the appearance of scars. Cattail jelly can be used topically for insect bites, but the flour also has anti-inflammatory potential that help to decrease the pain as well as severity of those affected areas.(1)

4. Hypertension

Adrenal glands are provided the appropriate support to decrease levels of stress by the content of protein and carbohydrates present in Cattail. It helps to improve the metabolism rate and thereby reduces stress.

5. Diabetes

Phytochemicals are required to streamline and maintain the absorption of insulin. A regular intake of Cattail can make your system combat diabetes mellitus, which is non-insulin dependent. So it is fruitful to consume cattail on a regular basis to combat diabetes.

6. Cancer Prevention

However this area of research is comparatively new and somewhat controversial, research is ongoing regarding cattails ability to prevent cancer. Chinese researchers are heading up exciting new area of study, but early results are promising for its antioxidant effect on cancerous cells.(2)

7. Atherosclerosis

LDL is decreased by intake of Cattail on account of the composition of Vitamin C, carotenoids and bioflavonoid. These elements make certain that the risks of cardiovascular diseases are reduced and the LDL is washed out of the system. Apart from that cholesterol absorption is also reduced. It means a reduced risk of developing atherosclerosis.

8. Cardio tonic and lipid-lowering effects

Cattail comprises of a certain composition of compounds, which help in decreasing the lipids in the body and even dilating the coronary artery. It is used in the treatment of heart diseases like angina, hyperlipidemia. Moreover, it is even used to dissolve stasis. It helps to reduce the deposition of lipids on the walls of the arteries. Hence, it prevents the incidence of heart diseases.

9. Antiseptic Application

Cattail is popular due to its natural antiseptic property, which has come in handy for numerous cultures for generations. The jelly-like substances that you can find in between young leaves are used on wounds and other areas of the body where foreign agents, pathogens, or microbes might do damage in order to protect our system. This same jelly from the cattail plant is known as a powerful analgesic and can be ingested or applied topically to relieve pain and inflammation.(3)

10. Steady increase in energy

As we all know that carbohydrates are a rich source of energy. Cattail consists of good amount of carbohydrate content. It means it has the ability to offer you greater levels of energy and even replenish energy levels if deficient from time to time. Since Cattail is made up of complex carbohydrates, the breakdown is rather slow, which means, you would have all the energy you need throughout the day.

11. Slow Bleeding

Various parts of the cattail have coagulant properties, meaning that they slow down the flow of blood and prevent anemia. This can be effective if you’re wounded, but also if you suffer from heavy menstrual bleeding, since it can lessen the severity. But it is potentially dangerous for people who already have moderately slow circulation, as it efficiently slows down the blood, while simultaneously stimulating coagulant response in the skin.(4)

How to Eat

  • Several parts of the plant are edible, including dormant sprouts on the roots and bases of the leaves, ripe pollen, the stem and the starchy roots.
  • Roots are edible raw or cooked.
  • They can be boiled and eaten like potatoes or macerated and then boiled to yield sweet syrup.
  • Roots can also be dried, ground into a powder and then used as a thickener in soups, etc. or added to cereal flours and this protein rich powder is used to make biscuits, etc.
  • Young shoots are consumed in spring raw or cooked.
  • Base of the mature stem is also edible raw or cooked.
  • Tender, young flowering stem is also edible raw, cooked or prepare into a soup.
  • Pollen is edible raw, cooked or processed into a protein rich additive to flour used in making bread, porridge, etc.
  • Small seed is edible roasted or cooked and edible oil can be obtained from the seed.

Other traditional uses and benefits of Cattail

  • Species is used as a refrigerant, an aphrodisiac and a cure for dysuria in India.
  • It is mainly used in folk remedies for the treatment of tumors, as anticoagulant, astringent, sedative and tonics.
  • Whole inflorescence is used in the healing of wounds.
  • Stamens (without the pollen) are used as an astringent for dysentery and for hemorrhage of the bowels in China.
  • Stamens, with the pollen, are also used as an astringent and styptic.
  • Pollen was used as substitute for powder of licopodio and that the hairs or seeds were used against burns.
  • Pollen is diuretic, emenagogue and haemostatic.
  • Dried pollen is supposed to be anticoagulant, but when roasted with charcoal it becomes haemostatic.
  • It is used internally in the treatment of kidney stones, internal hemorrhage of nearly any kind, painful menstruation, abnormal uterine bleeding, postpartum pains, abscesses and cancer of the lymphatic system.
  • Externally, it is used in the treatment of tapeworms, diarrhea and injuries.
  • Malecite and Mimac tribes used the roots for treatment of kidney stones in North America.
  • Zulus use a decoction of the root in the treatment of venereal diseases and the Xosas use it to aid in the expulsion of placenta.
  • Plant was listed one of several traditional Chinese medicinal herbs used for the treatment of dysmenorrhea through the use of combination-herbal-formula therapeutics with minimal side effects.
  • The pollen of cattail has been used traditionally for the treatment of metrorrhagia, dysmenorrhea and stranguria in China.

Other Facts

  • Stem and leaves are used for thatching, making paper and woven into mats, chairs, hats, etc.
  • Plant is a good source of biomass, making a superior addition to the compost heap or used as a source of fuel, etc.
  • Hairs of the fruits are used for stuffing pillows.
  • Female flowers make excellent tinder and can be lit from the spark of a flint.
  • Pollen is extremely inflammable and is used in making fireworks.


  • It should not be prescribed for pregnant women.






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