Autumn Nature Study – Cattails

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The Handbook of Nature Study blog has put on a series of autumn nature studies in which we’re we’re excited to participate. The first one is on cattails.

When we referred to our own Handbook I read that they were edible. Well, we just HAD to investigate that. So, instead of going to our local nature sanctuary where I know there are plenty of cattails with a beautiful place from which to sketch, we searched out the road sides and right down from where we live we found a patch. There were only couple with heads but many others without.


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R peeling at a stalk.

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She’s going in! J decided to brave the marshy ground (which turned out to not be too marshy…hmmmmm) to get the other cattail with a head.

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J pulling at the seeds. Is that ever fun, by the way! (I know. Get a life, right?) It just amazes me how tightly compressed they are, and how they form the firm velvety head we all recognize as the cattail.

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After you’ve dug up the cattail, and peeled away the leaves, this is what you get near to the root. And this edible!

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See? It actually doesn’t taste too bad.

Apparently, every part of the cattail is edible (besides the leaves) We’re definitely going to be watching this amazing plant through the seasons.

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We thought we’d cook ’em up and eat them like hotdogs…

just kidding!

When you have a boy in your midst, the suggestion of burning usually comes up. So, we gave that a try.

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And, of course, because of the densely packed seeds they smoked more than burned. And smelled awful, too.

Here’s a link to an interesting article on how you can eat and prepare cattails.

So, that’s it. Thanks, Barb from HNS. We’re planning  on doing the next one soon.


About Debbie

I am a stay at home mom of 2 energetic children. I homeschool them as well. I have a great husband who, after 7 years of working away from, finally has a job where he is home every night. We are trying to learn how to live together again along with adjusting to the lower pay that came along with the job change.
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6 Responses to Autumn Nature Study – Cattails

  1. harmonyartmom says:

    You are very welcome! Glad you were able to use all your senses in your nature study this week. 🙂

    I appreciated that you found some cattails right in your own neighborhood to observe. I think it will be interesting to focus on their changes as you go through the next year.

    You are one adventuresome nature study mama!

    Thanks for sharing your link,
    Barb-Harmony Art Mom

  2. Robinella says:

    Oh I meant to do this. I’ll have to check and see if it is too late. Great job! Tasting? Nah.

  3. Dawn says:

    Fun, fun. I should go out and harvest some for the winter 😉 . I had to say that. I think I heard they can be eaten, but haven’t ventured into it yet. Looks like a good study.

  4. Pamela says:

    really? edible?
    What a fun class.

    Hey –They do kind of look like a giant punk —

  5. Carla says:

    I found out that they were edible last year. Apparently it is one of the foods that that Natives around here ate. Amazing. Fun class.

  6. Peter says:

    I look forward to reading a ‘winter study’ with the same enthusiasm 🙂 and enhanced by equally delightful photos.

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