The Common Cattail Plant

Common Cattail
A very common wetland plant is the Cattail. They grow in dense groups in wet areas, with 2 to 10 foot tall sword like leaves with a hearty stalk. The familiar long oval brown spike rests on top of the stalk. Between May and July the spike will exhibit a yellowish flower. After the flower has been pollinated, September or October, the brown flower head will pop open and become very fluffy. The seeds are now mature and ready to ride the air waves to give birth to new plants.
Cattails play an extremely important part of the wetland ecosystem by providing nesting area for the red-winged blackbird, a place for fish to nest or hide in the water, food source for young ducklings and muskrats. Not only being beneficial to wild life, cattails provide humans various products. The rhizomes (horizontal root like stem) are ripe for eating in the fall and winter months. One peels and cooks them like a potato. This root can also be ground into flour. During the spring the cattail’s young shoots are tasty either raw or cooked. If you don’t feel like eating the plant, one can always use the soft-fluffy fruits as an insulating material for a sleeping bag or jacket.

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