When I was little, I remember telling people that cattails were my favorite flower. I still love seeing them and they're all over Montana. I've been trying to get a really good photograph of them. They grow near water and there's usually just enough of a breeze to mess up my pictures. Figures. Maybe one of these days I'll get that perfect picture. Did you know ...
In British English, cattails are called bulrush or reedmace?
In American English, they're also known as punks or corndog grass?
In Australia, cattails are called cumbungi?
Cattails are also edible, especially the stem part that grows underground. It can be ground into flour. The base of the leaves can be cooked or eaten raw. The flower spike can be peeled, boiled, and eaten like corn-on-the-cob. When the flowers disintegrate, birds use the fluff to line their nests. Native Americans used it as tinder to start fires, to line moccasins, and for bedding, diapers, baby powder, and papoose boards. The flower can also be dipped in wax for a candle, using the stem as a wick. I didn't know they had so many uses. I just thought they looked neat and had a cool name.