Ed Golson Outdoor Education

cattails

Scientific Name: Typha latifolia

Description: These very common aquatic plants are easy to identify with their long green leaves and brown cigar-shaped flower on top. These plants grow very quickly- young plants will often reach nine feet by late spring. Cattails are an ancient plant. They've been around since the time of the dinosaurs.  

Some people think of cattails as simply being weeds that block their view of the lake , but cattails play a very important role in the environment. For starters, cattails are edible and are an important food source for all sorts of wetland creatures. Thick stands of cattails also provide valuable cover for many animals such as ducks or red-wing black bird to nest in. Cattails also do a great job of filtering the water as it enters the lakes and ponds . This helps to reduce the amount of pollution that is in the water system.  

Cattails are quite common and are in no danger of becoming endangered any time soon, but that doesn't mean they don't have problems. Often people will mow down cattails to improve their view just because they don't think cattails look nice. Cattails are also facing stiff competition from several invasive species such as purple loosetrife and phragmites.

Back to Previous Page