31 Cattail Plant Facts: Benefits, Habitat, Importance And More | Kidadl


31 Cattail Plant Facts: Benefits, Habitat, Importance And More

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Read these Tokyo facts to learn all about the Japanese capital.

Reed is the common name for several tall grass-like plants, usually found in wetlands.

Reed is also found along the margins of fens, lakes, marshes, and streams from the Arctic regions to the tropics. Reeds are broad-leafed grass with a stiff, smooth vertical stem and feathery flower clusters about 36-60 in (0.9 - 1.5 m) tall. 

According to the modern circumscription, all members of the reed family come in the order 'Poales' which includes the grass family; Poaceae, the Sedge family; Cyperaceae, and other families such as Typhaceae and Restionaceae. They harvest the green stems of reeds for cellulose content.

For millennia different cultures have used dried reed stems to construct various types of buildings. Marsh Arabs are one of the people who built this type of buildings. In many places, the common reed is also used for thatching roofs, in basketry, in musical instruments, and for making arrows and pens. 

Keep reading to know more about cattail plant facts.

Facts About Cattail Plant

Common cattail plants are important to wildlife, especially in wetlands. They provide a haven for many small aquatic creatures and tiny fish, that birds and other animals feed on. Let's take a look at some other interesting facts about this plant:

  • Cattail is also important as it has medicinal, nutritional, and material uses.
  • Cattails are tall, reedy monocotyledonous marsh plants which are also known as Bullrush reed, reedmace, or corn dog grass, that belongs to the family Typhaceae.
  • Cattail plants are utilitarian species, and they have almost as many names as their uses.
  • The fluff of cattail seeds provides nesting for hummingbirds and red-winged blackbirds.
  • Muskrats and beavers eat the roots and use cattail leaves to decorate and line their lodges and dens.
  • Moreover, snails use the blades of the cattail leaves as vertical highways, and bees collect the pollen.
  • When the growing season ends, the narrow-leaf cattail dies, but the vertical stem with brown-colored flower heads stands tall.
  • Another interesting fact is that even though they appear to be dense as a corn dog, thousands of seeds explode into the air if we touch them.
  • Like many other plants, cattail growth has some bad effects too. The vigorous growth of cattails results in the blocking of biomass due to the obstruction in the growth of less invasive and more desirable plant species.
  • Cattails even obstruct critical structures like drains, emerging spillways, irrigation intakes, and auto-sills of ponds. Obstruction and blocking of these structures increase the risk of flooding too. Excessive cattail growth can also interfere with recreational uses, such as angling and boating in the waterways.


Natural Habitat Of Cattail Plants

About 30 species of monocotyledonous flowering plants come under 'Typha,' which belongs to the family Typhaceae. Let's explore more about this plant's natural habitat:

  • Due to the ample occurrence of wind-dispersed seeds, Typha is one of the first wetland plants to colonize areas with newly exposed mud.
  • Cattails or reedmaces, with the scientific name Typha Latifolia, belong to the genus Typha. Two species of cattails are common, which are Typha latifolia with broad leaves. In contrast, the closely related Typha Angustifolia has narrower leaves and narrower fruit heads with a gap between female flowers and male flowers.
  • Cattails or reed marshes are widespread species found in cold and temperate regions of the southern and northern hemispheres. These plants inhabit fresh to brackish water, and they are considered aquatic or semi-aquatic.
  • We can easily recognize cattails with their brown cigar-shaped head above a very long stout stalk. Green young shoots first appear in spring, and after fertilization, the female flowers are transformed into brown 'cigars,' also known as candle wicks, filled with thousands of tiny developing seeds.
  • Cattails emerge from creeping rhizomes and form upright perennial plants with long tapering green spongy cattail leaves. They have unisexual flowers on cylindrical spikes, with male flowers located above the female flowers. When the spikes mature and disintegrate, it releases cottony masses of seeds which are dispersed by wind.


Some Of The Benefits Of Cattail Plants

Cattails are even nicknamed 'survival supermarkets' as all parts of the plant are fit for human consumption. But there is a hazardous look-alike known as iris which may inhabit the same marshes. We can distinguish a cattail from a dangerous iris by looking for the distinctive cigar heads which are not present in the iris. Let's look at some other interesting benefits of cattail plants:

  • Cattail plants provide wildlife habitat, food, and cover for fish, insects, and a shelter for birds. Like many other wetland plants, they reduce and intercept the force of wind and small waves on the shore. The stems also help to catch and slow the flow of water to trap silt and sediments in the soil, thereby preventing erosion.
  • The plant cattails have a dense root system that helps in preventing shore erosion in small ponds and lakes. They also filter toxins out of the water making water clean.
  • The plants absorb nitrogen-fixing bacteria in their roots and redistribute them to the surrounding soil. Recently scientists have come across the potential of cattail to be used as biofuel.
  • They are also highly recognized as a culinary delicacy as all parts of the plant are edible. The young shoots of cattails are rich in vitamin A, B, C, phosphorus, and potassium and can be eaten like asparagus. The stalks and roots of cattails can be boiled, fried, baked, or if harvested from a clean area, they can even be eaten raw.
  • Native Americans and the early colonists ground rootstock into a meal as it was edible and rich in starch. The roots have sprouts that can be boiled and served as greens or used in salads.
The fine hairs of cattail seeds can be used for stuffing, insulation, and even as tinder to start a fire.

Health Benefits Of Cattail Plants

There are many benefits to look forward to in this diverse plant, including its use for many medicinal purposes. Let's take a look:

  • One of the important health benefits of cattails is their antiseptic properties. The jelly from common cattail is also an analgesic to relieve inflammation and pain.
  • The gelatinous substance between young cattail leaves is applied on wounds and different areas of the body to protect our system from the harmful effects of pathogens, microbes, or other foreign agents.
  • Various extracts from cattails prevent anemia by slowing down blood flow as they have coagulant properties, and they can also lessen the severity of menstrual bleeding.
  • But cattails are hazardous to people who have comparatively slow blood circulation as it slows down the blood effectively.
  • Cattails are rich in nutrients and organic compounds which provide skincare, in particular, to heal sores, boils, and scars.
  • As cattails are rich sources of carbohydrates, they produce high levels of energy and replenish energy levels when required.
  • Cattail compounds provide treatment for heart diseases like angina and hyperlipidemia. It has lipid-lowering effects on the walls of arteries, which helps prevent heart diseases.
  • Cattail intake reduces LDL cholesterol which lowers the risk of developing atherosclerosis.
  • It's also found that cattails control diabetes mellitus if consumed regularly.
  • Moreover, it has proteins and carbohydrates, which help to improve the rate of metabolism and reduce stress.
  • Finally, a mixture of a cattail-rich diet and a whole meal is also helpful in enabling weight gain.
Written By
Sridevi Tolety

<p>With a Master's degree in clinical research from Manipal University and a PG Diploma in journalism from Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Sridevi has cultivated her passion for writing across various domains. She has authored a wide range of articles, blogs, travelogues, creative content, and short stories that have been published in leading magazines, newspapers, and websites. Sridevi is fluent in four languages and enjoys spending her spare time with loved ones. Her hobbies include reading, traveling, cooking, painting, and listening to music.</p>

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