The cattail (Typha sp.) is a familiar plant to all of us. It is a wetlands plant with spongy leaves and starchy, creeping stems. Once fertilized, the female flowers transform into the familiar brown “cigars”-also called candlewicks, punks, ducktails, and marsh beetles-consisting of thousands of tiny developing seeds. These stand atop very long, stout stalks, even as the young shoots first emerge in early spring. Cattails provide important habitat for many species of wildlife and birds. Redwing blackbirds and many ducks and geese nest in them, and some animals, such as muskrats, eat them. Even upland songbirds will use fluff from the flowers to line their nests. Cattails also improve water and soil quality.
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