Monday, April 25, 2011


(Pictured: Cattails, from BogDan off wikipedia)

Cattails are a perennial marginal water plant that can also be called bullrush. They get to a general height of five feet and have a two foot spread. These are some of the easiest recognized plants in a water garden, and they are like the water lily in common plants to use. The blooms on a cattail will tell the sex of the plant. A yellow bloom signifies a male plant and a green bloom will signify a female plant. The blooming season of cattails are usually in summer to early fall, from July to November. They are famous for their straight upright stems and their green basal leaves. These will turn a yellowish brown color come winter, and still be quite the charmer in a water garden.

How to Plant and Grow Cattails
Cattails prefer a full sun or partial shade environment, with a wet rich loamy soil that doesn’t dry out, and in the USDA hardy zones of four to ten. They are average maintenance plants, but usually not a headache to take care of. They can be invasive if they are allowed to grow freely, so plant in containers or in tubs around the garden so that they can be restricted on where they can and cannot grow. Left to their own devices they are avid self sowers and can take over a landscape. Other than this invasive nature to the plant they are very good plants, with no disease or decay issues.

Folklore Remedy
Native Americans have used the Typha plant for many items. Medically it was a staple treatment for sores, boils, wounds, inflammation, pain reliever, and for carbuncles. For those items they used a bit of the jelly like substance that is between the leaves.

It was used to make toys, thatch roofs, chair backing, baskets, mats, rugs, seat pads, and many other items that made cattails more about function than fun. There have been mats from cattails found by archeologists dating back over 10,000 years old in Nevada. That is amazing considering that the mats were still recognizable and hadn’t decomposed like many of the mat making materials in today’s world.

Scientific Classification of Cattails
  • Kingdom Plantae – Plants
  • Subkingdom Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
  • Superdivision Spermatophyta – Seed plants
  • Division Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
  • Class Liliopsida – Monocotyledons
  • Subclass Commelinidae
  • Order Typhales
  • Family Typhaceae – Cat-tail family
  • Genus Typha L. – cattails


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