As a wild food, cattails are both common and difficult to misidentify. A stand of cattails — in which young shoots grow among last year's stalks, many still topped by their distinctive fluffy seed heads — is as close as you'll get to finding a wild supermarket. The "tails" themselves aren't edible but can be burned as torches or tinder, or used as insulation. The stripped seed heads below might suggest that nest-building season has begun.
Along the Harlem Meer, Central Park, Manhattan