Autumn is the time of year when Cattail (typha latifolia)‘s naming is most evident. This is the time of the year that the sturdy brown seed head bursts open to reveal the large fluffy mass of a “cat’s tail”. The Cattail, is ruggedly sturdy and tall, and as if to defy physics, the plants love wet feet, growing in marshy areas or at the edges of ponds and lakes.
It appears that the birds are unaware of the plant’s nickname. The soft fuzzy seeds are sought out as lining for many birds’ nests.
It is always a pleasure to recommend a fellow WordPress blogger’s posting: https://cattails.wordpress.com/facts/ They have more information than I would normally share on a species. Enjoy the read!
At first glance what is seen is past-its-prime dead weeds in front of the colorful fall foliage. Getting closer shows dried leaves and seed heads standing tall, contrasting with the still alive tree leaves. Still closer shows evidence that the “life cycle” progression of the season varies even on one the single stalk of one perennial. The closest image shows the intricate details of nature.
I am unsure of the exact species shown in these images; the location must be returned to next year during summer’s mid-season for better identification. Such is the fun of being an aspiring naturalist.
Fall does not signal the final days of interest on the prairie. Plants no longer garner attention from brilliant colorful flowers, but now in this late season, they maintain attention with their array of showy seed heads. Attraction is no longer to insure pollination, aiding survival of the species. Seed heads are designed for travel via wind or carrier; to blow freely in the air or to instantly stick to anyone who brushes against the seeds. Both methods help ensure expansion of plant populations. These species use seeds to expand their footprint in the prairie. Some seeds will produce new plants during their first year on the fertile prairie soil. Other seeds may lie dormant for decades, alive and waiting for conditions that stimulate their germination. Just as wild animals have predators and therefore reproduce in abundance to ensure survival of the species so too plants are prolific seed producers allowing for a specie’s survival in spite of seed-loving predators. The specie that may be most attracted to the seed-filled prairie landscape may not come as predator, but as observer. The reason is not for survival that most humans come to the fall prairie, but because such a prairie scene creates romantic reminders of our own fertility and mortality.