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What to do with a bazillion cattails?

Posted by twinsmom_OH 6a/Cinti (My Page) on
Sat, Jul 23, 05 at 22:13

Our new property has a pond and an overflow area that are brimming with cattails! I'm trying to brainstorm stuff to do with them (other than composting!).

I've never done any basketmaking or similar, but I seem to recall that cattails make good baskets, is that true? How difficult and/or time-consuming is basketmaking? Can you make baskets entirely of cattails or do you need other materials too?

I've also heard they are edible. Has anyone eaten them? Is it worth the effort to harvest and prepare them?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: What to do with a bazillion cattails?

Here are some interesting articals that I found at Mother Earth news, if you do a search on the Mother earth site, of cattails you will get several articals. Very interesting. (c;

Here is a link that might be useful: cattails

RE: What to do with a bazillion cattails?

Oh wow, great article! I want to do some more quilting in the future, and I bet with some extra work a cattail-filled quilt or comforter would be great! I'll have to go back when I have more time and look for more articles on that site.

Thanks! :)

RE: What to do with a bazillion cattails?

  • Posted by gran2 z5 INDIANA (My Page) on
    Sun, Jul 24, 05 at 19:34

While I admire your desire to do sometihng useful with them, we found that cattails will soon take over your pond and really need to be removed. Leaving only a few will result in another take-over in just a few years. DH had to scrape them with a tractor and blade. We're reluctant to use chemicals, but I'm not sure that anything is very effective anyway.

RE: What to do with a bazillion cattails?

If you pick them at an early stage (before they are ready to turn to fluff), you might find a market for them through florists, or a wholesale florist...I tried to buy some roots last year, but the delivery got mixed up. I sell cut flowers both to florists and at my own stand, and would use them in my arrangements if I had them growing on the property...Ann

RE: What to do with a bazillion cattails?

Cattails are a mixed blessing. You can do much with them and depending on your desire to utilize them, rotate the use as you would any crop. There is a season to all things.
If you chose to erradicate, please before destroying all the cattails, contact several groups of people: Native plant societies/ native plant nurseries; local Native American tribal groups; Wildlife and Habitat restoration/conservation groups; local college if they have an educational department you think would be interested in harvesting; and primitive technology groups. Many of these will be willing to come take them. Maybe with this long list, you may see there is quite a variety of peoples interested in cattails. I would like to take this time to also point out that its not just the human peoples that utilize the cattails. I'm not from Ohio and have only visited briefly twice so I'm not sure of the animals in your area that may utilize the cattail as a habitat zone. Here we have birds that use them: marsh wrens nest there, blackbirds, various water fowl, fishes use this area as a nursery for their fry ... I could go on and on but I think you understand. While these plants may a nuisance, they provide and import niche in habitat for many species.
I read your bio real quick and I would like to address the SAHM part. I'm a homeschool mom of three and always trying to be frugile or ways to gather a little supplemental cash. I hope in a year we will be moving out to our piece in the country to homestead. We live in a wonderful area rich with diversity of peoples and places. But our area is becoming increasingly crowded with people. We spend much time at the marshes, forest and beaches but these are shrinking. People keep coming, the tourist and those wanting to escape the cities, and they want to see the wildlife, they want to experience it and in their desire to do this, they often love these places to death. So what does this have to do with SAHM :) Have you ever thought of a side business? A small aspect of a working farm with a side venue for ecotourism and agtourism. It could be seasonal; it could be weekends only; it could be by appointment only; it could cater to just educational groups. It could be something that the whole family could participate in.
So ... cattails can be fun. Cattails can be useful. Cattails are niche habitat. Cattails can be educational. Cattails could equate income. Think about it, play with the ideas. It all depends on how you want to look at the cattail that will be the deciding factor.
Best of Wishes for you and yours!

RE: What to do with a bazillion cattails?

I don't have any plans to completely eradicate the cattails. The red-winged blackbirds definitely like them, and I'm sure they're not the only ones. Plus I think they're very attractive - just not in the huge masses they are now. I'm willing to do the extra work to keep them under control.

The ecotourism/agtourism idea is interesting, but probably not for me.... I'm not that much of a people person. :)

Thanks for the tips everyone!

RE: What to do with a bazillion cattails?

I've never tried any, but the link is a Google search for cattail recipes. Euell Gibbons I remember used to eat them.

The Mother Earth News article was food for thought.

Here is a link that might be useful: Cattail Recipes

RE: What to do with a bazillion cattails?

They drink a lot of water , more than most any other plant .
you can eat the roots by cleaning them and boiling them like potatoes . You could sell the roots to people with water gardens . You could dredge your pond out to 15 feet or deeper
and leave them around the edge . You need a pond at least 15 feet deep to raise trout . check out " Feasting Free on Wild Edibles " by Bradford Angier at at your local library .

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