Cattail Typha Latifolia
Cattails are water-loving emergent plants, meaning that their root systems grow submerged in water but the bulk of the plant rises above the water's surface. They can reach up to 7 to 9 feet tall. They provide cover for wildlife, notably birds that nest and mate in the rushes. When grown along the edge of a pond or waterway, the plants soften the water's edge and provide a dramatic appearance. During the winter months, the tall plants' distinctive cigar-shaped brown heads hold snow. Green stalks provide shelter for wildlife and even when the stalks turn a winter brown, the plants add landscape interest throughout the non-growing season. The plants are hardy to USDA zones 3 through 11 and can tolerate both high and low temperatures. Growers interested in permaculture find the plants extremely valuable, beyond simply their aesthetic appeal, because the plants are important pieces of a pond's entire ecosystem. Their roots help remove pollutants from water. The root systems also aid in the decomposition of organic materials that wash ashore. Additionally, the plants act as windbreaks and prevent shore erosion. To successfully grow cattails, they need to be planted in a moist, boggy environment with a water depth of no more than 1.5 feet. They spread via their rhizome root system, which requires a constant and consistent water source. Given the right conditions, they grow rapidly and spread rapidly. This is good news, if your pond is undergoing severe erosion. The plants can also be grown in containers, or cut and dried for floral decorations. Their fibrous stalks can be used for arts and crafts and the decorative heads can be used for a number of ornamental purposes. The roots can be consumed as food, though this use is rare. Additionally, if your property has an area that is boggy or moist, planting cattails is an effective way to filter water and control erosion.