While traveling on Mississippi Hwy 22 a few days ago, I did a double take as I passed these Cattails that were growing in a shallow ditch beside the road.
If you are a regular visitor here, you know I can't just take pictures of things without finding out a little about them. Having been born and raised in Northeast Louisiana, which is home to thousands of lakes, ponds, marshes, bayous, and swamps, I was quite familiar with cattails when I was growing up, but never really thought anything about them, one way or another. I guess I'm more curious about things at this stage of my life, because I wanted to know more about how those cattails came to be growing in a little ditch beside MS Hwy 22.
While researching "cattails," I came across an interesting website (Study of Northern Virginia Ecology) designed for use by elementary-age students in Northern Virginia to learn more about their local ecology, and here is what I discovered about cattails:
Cattails can be found growing around ponds, marshes, rivers, lakes, and even ditches, as mine were.
"They are tall, stiff plants, sometimes growing to a height of almost 10 feet. The leaves look like giant blades of grass, about one-inch wide, and the 'flower' has two parts a brown cylinder (the female part), and a yellow spike (the male part).
Common Cattails have roots that creep, called rhizomes, which grow new shoots quickly. This creates the thick stands which are great cover for the many animals that live among them.
Red-winged Blackbirds are probably the animal most associated with cattails. The blackbirds are often seen perching on them, and they also build their nests on them. Besides Red-winged Blackbirds, waterfowl, such as Mallards and Canada Geese, nest among cattails. Frogs and salamanders will lay their eggs in the water on and between them. Fish will hide or nest among them."
I'm disappointed that I didn't see any creatures or nests among the cattails I saw, but I was keeping a careful look out for a different species of animals that could have been lurking in the grass at my feet snakes!
I also found out that "Common Cattails flower from May to July. In early Fall, the brown flower head pops open, letting its fluffy seeds emerge. These seeds are carried by wind or water to new places, and many species of birds use the fluff to line their nests."
I'll be sure to slow down when I pass the cattails the next time I'm traveling on Hwy 22, and hopefully, will be able to capture some pictures of the flowers after they have popped open.