Cattail (Pu Huang)

Botanical Name: Typha angustifolia, T. latifolia

Cattails are medicine and food. The pollen is most frequently used as an effective herb to stop internal and external bleeding. For centuries, the Chinese and Native Americans have used cattails for stuffing pillows, stopping postpartum bleeding, and as a vegetable in stews and salads. The pollen is high in protein. Cattail helps regulate the cardiovascular system by preventing clotting and lowering blood lipids.

Watch a short video, from Ann Christensen, Founder and Creator of White Rabbit Institute of Healing™ – Cattail, Pregnancy, Birthing, and Postpartum…

Below is an overview of cattail, combining the best of Western Science, Oriental Medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Shamanism, Folklore, and a wide range of healing modalities. Gain a balanced and thorough understanding of the healing properties of cattail.

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Western Name: Cattail

Also Known As: Reedmace, Bulrush, Punks, Corn Dog Grass

Organs/Systems: Uterus, Skin, Cardiovascular

Key Actions: Cardiotonic, Anti-inflammatory, Diuretic, Analgesic, Anti-asthmatic, Hemostatic, Astringent, Emenagogue, Antiseptic, Coagulant

Key Medicinal Uses: Cuts, bruises, postpartum bleeding, menstrual disorders, asthma, wheezing, painful urination.


Pin Yin: Pu Huang (Cattail Pollen)

Also Known As: N/A

Meridians: Liver, Heart, Spleen

Key Actions: Stops Bleeding, Removes Stasis, Aids Birthing, Promotes Lactation, Promotes Urination

Key Medicinal Uses: Bloody nose, traumatic bleeding, abdominal pain, menstrual cramps, postpartum bleeding, uterine bleeding, vomiting blood, blood in the urine, prevents miscarriage, difficult painful urination, vaginal discharge, promotes lactation. Mix with honey to heal wounds, stings, and burns.

Basic Habitat / Botany:

T. angustifolia is slightly smaller in size than T. latifolia. Both plants have similar structures and properties.

It grows in wet marshes and wetlands.

Parts Most Frequently Used: Pollen, Root, Young Sprout, Jelley from Leaves

Flavors/Temps: Sweet, Slightly Acrid, Neutral

Caution: Very low toxicity. Due to the plant’s strong hemostatic properties, use it cautiously during pregnancy.

Key Constituents: Protein, Flavonoids, Sterols, Polysaccharides, Amino acids, Trace elements (Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iron, Iodine, Selenium), Volatile oil.

History/Folklore: Cattails provided Native Americans with food, medicine, and even clothing. The early American settlers similarly made good use of cattails. The leaves have been used to weave shoes, mats, and baskets. Ashes of the burned leaves and droplets of sap, that form at the plant’s base, can be applied to wounds to keep them from getting infected. Cattail wool from the hairs of the female inflorescence has been used to stuff pillows and to fill shoes in the winter. The roots have been ground into flour and the white-colored shoots at the base of the leaf clusters can be boiled, steamed, or sliced and eaten raw in salads.

Cattail pollen is collected in summer, dried in the sun, ground, and sifted into powder. The plants bloom from May to July. The young root stalks can be pulled off in early spring and eaten in stir fries and other vegetable dishes. The young flower heads can be prepared and eaten like corn on the cob. The pollen can be dried and used as flour. The roots can be peeled, boiled, dried, and also ground into flour. However, the flour made from the pollen is considered the best. Be careful to know the water quality where you are sourcing your cattail food and medicine as the plants are amazing at ingesting toxicities from the local environment.

The jelly or sap that grows between the young leaves has antiseptic properties making it useful for treating wounds, boils, and skin infections. It is also used as a soup thickener.

The leaves can be boiled to make an external skin wash and the mashed roots can be crushed and used as toothpaste. The root powder in a cup of hot water will help stop diarrhea and dysentery.

In China, there is a famous soup called “milk soup of cattail” (Nai Tang Pu Cai). Its popularity dates back to the Ming Dynasty. Because of its milky white color, crisp texture, and refreshing light flavor, it is often served at important meals and festivals. Some say cattails taste like asparagus or the shoots can taste like cucumbers.

Cattails symbolize peace and have traditionally been given as peace offerings between friends and lovers if they have quarreled. They are also considered a symbol of prosperity.

Cattail pollen is a vibrant canary color, with a mild floral aroma. It’s almost all color with little flavor and contains around 17% protein.

The Native American Pueblo Indians associate cattails with water and rain and use them in ceremonial rain dances. The Mexican Kickapoos associate cattails with water serpents and make special offerings to the snake people before gathering the plants for medicines or food. The Navajo believe cattails protect against lightning and many tribes of the Southwest use the plant’s pollen as traditional face paint.

Cattail is often used in Chinese formulas to help treat IBS and Crohn’s disease.

Cattails grown in poisoned arsenic water have reduced the poisonous level by 89%.

Cattail is a raw material used for manufacturing paper and rayon.

Did you know?


Did you know that cattail pollen is rich in protein?


Edible Vegetable

Cattail is an edible, crispy wild vegetable, especially the soft white part of the cauloid and the young part at the tip of the cattail roots.

Fun fact!

Used in Decoctions

If used in decoction the pollen is usually taken separately, though it can also be placed in a cheesecloth and cooked with other herbs.

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