And it’s not just the ragweed pollen. The wind-blown fruits of these cattails, Typha latifolia, were taking flight yesterday at the golf course. So beautiful and delicate! They clung together like milkweed seeds. Then, when the wind was just right, a few would be taken aloft, possibly to land in a watery spot where the seed will germinate and a new young plant will grow.
Cattails are among the first plants to colonize a new mud flat. The plants also reproduce vegetatively, spreading by underground rhizomes. They are flowering plants that use the wind for dispersal of both pollen and seeds.Each flowering stalk produces male flowers near the tip and female flowers below. After they release pollen in the spring, the male flowers disintegrate, leaving a dry spike above the seed-producing female flowers.
Every part of the cattail is edible, and the wildlife may be looking to them this winter, since we have had very few acorns or hickory nuts.