Cattails (Thypha spp.) The sprouts that emerge from the water, once peeled, can be eaten raw or cooked.
When the canes are very young (about a month), they present an edible raw or cooked pith. The female part (the brown ear) can be roasted and eaten like corn.
The male part (the flowers at the apex), when they open and the set of yellow flowers is seen, they shake to collect pollen, which can be used as flour. The adult roots generate small buds that can be eaten like the shoots.
The roots are also edible, peeled and raw, cooked or dried and ground as flour. The seeds are collected ripe and roasted.
The rhizomes are edible almost all year round, boiled, fried, in embers or in a vinaigrette and abound at a rate of 7 or more tons per hectare.
In autumn and winter they can be more fibrous but they can still be used for their carbohydrates in a similar way to that of reed. 22% of its weight can be used as flour.
In winter the bases of the stems can also be used: the plant is cut at ground level and the base is peeled until reaching the nutritive core.
Immature ears can be eaten raw (Duke 1992) or cooked, like ears of corn.
In early summer the ears are covered in pollen, which can be collected to make tortillas or add to soups; mixed with other flours, it is used for pancakes or flatbreads.
Pollen is rich in proteins and vitamins A, B, C and E. You must remove the shells and hairs from the seeds, which can be done by scorching them briefly with fire or sifted with a sieve.
They can be added to stews or porridge and contain up to 20% oil. Pollen, if dried well, can be kept for the winter without getting moldy.
Each spike can provide up to 1.5 g of pollen (INCUPO 1988) and can reach 4000 kg per hectare (Arenas & Scarpa 2003, who reproduce a bromatological study of pollen carried out by M.Charpentier 1998).
Analysis done in Chile (Schmeda et al. 1999) reveals that rhizomes (dry weight) contain around 67% carbohydrates, 6% crude proteins and 1% lipids. Cattails in Sweden yield an average of 1.9 kg / m² of rhizomes that provide more than 1,300 kilocalories (Källman 1988). Someone living in front of a cattail would not have to go hungry: Euell T. Gibbons, a great connoisseur of the food flora of the USA, argued that cattails are the true supermarkets of the swamps (Harrington 1967, Bringle-Clarke 1977, Peterson 1977, Kunkel 1984, Genders 1988, Zurlo & Brandão 1990, Peters et al. 1992, Kershaw 2000). About ten species ofTyphawith edible rhizomes, shoots, spikes and pollen. Two more species are recorded in Argentina:T. latifolia L. andT. subulata.