Typha has a wide variety of parts that are edible to humans. The rhizomes, underground lateral stems, are a pleasant nutritious and energy-rich food source that when processed into flour contains 266 kcal per 100 g. They are generally harvested from late autumn to early spring. These are starchy, but also fibrous, so the starch must be scraped or sucked from the tough fibers. The bases of the leaves can be eaten raw or cooked, in late spring when they are young and tender.In early summer the sheath can be removed from the developing green flower spike which can than be boiled and eaten like corn on the cob. In mid-summer, once the male flowers are mature, the pollen can be collected and used as a flour supplement or thickener.Typha has also recently been suggested as a source of oil.However, the plant's airborne seeds have also been known to create skin irritation and can trigger asthma.
Starch grains have been found on grinding stones widely across Europe from 30,000 BP suggesting that Typha plants were a widely used Upper Paleolithic food.