Beautiful Creeping Cattails


Cattails by Rachel

Cattails (Typha species) are a frequently occurring plant member along the edge of ponds, lakes, and ditches. They have such a classic look in these settings that they are included in most photographs of an aquatic setting and represented in art as well. Even my seven-year-old daughter automatically includes them in her drawings of a pond.

Cattails spreading seed.

They are a native plant and they provide some vertical display in a pond setting, but they grow fast and need to be managed. The brown seedpod at the top of the stalk is like a very compact dandelion, producing airborne seeds including a small tuft of material that keeps them floating indefinitely. I often joke with pond owners that one pod could repopulate all of Planet Earth with cattails, because there are approximately 250,000 seeds on a single cattail head.

In addition to multiplying rapidly from seed, cattails produce large rhizomes for new, rapidly progressing growth. As cattails grow in summer and die in fall, the dead leaves provide a lot of thatch material. As the thatch decays, it provides sludge that becomes an ideal growing medium for cattails the following year. In short, each year they make their own land to grow on the following season. They can even make floating islands.

Cattail roots support and spread

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