Common Cattail

Typha latifolia

Naturesongs.com

Common Cattails are a familiar sight along the shore of any marsh, pond, lake, or river. They can even be found in ditches.

Cattails are tall, stiff plants, growing almost ten feet tall. The leaves look like giant blades of grass, about one inch wide. The flower has two parts; a brown cylinder (the female part), and a yellow spike (the male part).

Cattails are usually found in a dense stand (many together).

 

Common Cattails have roots that creep, called rhizomes. Rhizomes grow new shoots quickly. This creates the thick stands which are great cover for the many animals which live among them.

Red-winged Blackbirds are probably the animal most associated with cattails. The blackbirds are often seen in groups perching on them. They also build their nests on them.

Besides Red-winged Blackbirds, waterfowl, such as Mallards and Canada Geese, nest among cattails. Frogs and salamanders will lay their eggs in the water on and between them. Fish will hide or nest among them.

Muskrats eat Common Cattails and use them to build their houses. White-tailed Deer, Raccoons, Eastern Cottontails, and Turkey all use cattails as cover. Many species of insects eat and live on them.

Common Cattails flower from May to July. In early fall, the brown flower head pops open, letting its fluffy seeds emerge. These seeds are carried by wind or water to new places.

Many species of birds use the fluff to line their nests.

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Relationships in Nature:

Animals Using as Food Source

Animals Using as Shelter

Associations With Other Plants

OTHER

Muskrat

Red-winged Blackbird

Yellow Pond Lily

Tussock Sedge C

Canada Goose

Muskrat

Common Duckweed

Beaver Mu

Stagnant Pond Snail

Canada Goose

Pickerelweed

Downy Woodpecker FP

Mallard

Common Reed

Wild Rice EC

White-tailed Deer

Tussock Sedge

Raccoon

Green Algae

Bullfrog

Lizard's Tail

Wild Turkey

Long-leaf Pondweed

Golden Shiner

Greater Bladderwort

Eastern Painted Turtle

Spotted Joe-pye Weed

American Dog Tick

Marsh Bulrush

American Toad

Arrow Arum

Green Darner

Swamp Rose Mallow

Freshwater Leech

Wild Rice

Eastern Newt

Northern Water Snake

Large Diving Beetle

Stagnant Pond Snail

Paramecium

Green Darner

Relationship to Humans:

All parts of the cattail plant are edible. American Indians prepared the different parts in many ways. The leaves of Common Cattail are used to weave baskets, chair seats, and mats.

People sometimes plant cattails along the shores of water to prevent erosion.

The fluffy seeds are used as insulation for pillows and coats.

An adhesive (glue) can be made from the stems.

The pollen is sometimes used in fireworks.

SCIENTIFIC CLASSIFICATION

KINGDOM
Plant
DIVISION
Magnoliophyta
CLASS
Liliopsida
ORDER
Typhales
FAMILY
Typhaceae
GENUS
Typha
SPECIES
Typha latifolia

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