Cattails, or typha, is a flowering plant commonly found throughout the northern hemisphere in marshy areas and around the borders of streams and lakes. Cattails are one of the most recognizable of water plants due to the unique appearance of their flower stems. This unique appearance is due to a straight stem on which is a sausage shaped arrangement of densely packed female flowers topped by a pointed spike of male flowers. This arrangement is where the plant gets its name due to the resemblance of the flowering stem to a tufted cat’s tail.
Cattails have, in the past been used for numerous purposes. Practically every part of the plant, from the rhizomes from which it grows to the pollen which the plant produces, with evidence suggesting that humans have been eating cattails for at least 30.000 years. The seeds are wind distributed via the down which covers the seeds and this down has been collected and used as clothing insulation, pillow stuffing, and as filler for life preservers. The boiled rootstocks have been used for their diuretic properties, or processed into a paste for the treatment of wounds. Modern research has even shown that the ever versatile cattail can be used in the manufacture of ethanol.
Despite the many uses of cattails the most common use is as decorative greenery. When planted near a pond, swamp, of other streamside the cattail provides lush, elegant, easily recognizable greenery. The cattail is king for any wetland natural area as its stems provide hiding places for water creatures, the edible flowering heads are, at times, eaten by a variety of animals, and the down from the seedheads is used by birds to line their nests. The versatile cattail is rapidly becoming one of the most sought after plants for use in wetlands natural areas and landscaping. TN Nursery is a great place to purchase cattails.