The Progress of the Cattail Marsh

220px-Typha-cattails-in-indiana
Cattails, (Typha) for those who aren’t familiar with them, are plants that grow in wetlands and along side lakes in shallow water. They have long, narrow, pale green leaves, and each plant has a central spike at the top of which grows a long brown sausage like part that consists of tiny female flowers. Above the sausage are the male flowers, formed into a very narrow spike. After the male flowers pollinate the females, the male flowers wither and die. Just our luck, guys! Eventually, toward the end of summer, the female flowers that form the sausage-like part will start to break apart into cottony fluff that contains the seeds, thereby ensuring the propagation of the species.

Sophie (the fuzzy one) and I, go past a Cattail marsh every morning on our walk. Its been fun to watch its progress over the summer. Starting from the roots, in water, as points of green, the leaves are now over my head, and this, in just over two months. The sausage-like parts are now starting to grow. They start out green and very thin. The spike above them, which contains the male flowers is also thin, but I can see it start to develop. As the female flower part develops it will grow larger and turn brown.

The fuzzy one, of course, cares nothing for cattail marshes, except for what kind of life they might be hiding that she can chase. There is a Woodchuck that lives at the far end of the marsh from my house that we have named Bruce. He shows himself once in a while, and Sophie, straining at her leash, wants nothing more than to chase him to the end of the earth, and then of course, disembowel him. Poor Bruce. I don’t let her do that, and for my mistreatment of her, I am ignored for the rest of our walk.

Red wing Blackbirds make their nests in cattail marshes. They get very excited when we walk by, chirping and squawking loudly as we go down the road. One day a female redwing, (who doesn’t have any red on her wings), lands on the road in front of us, sticks out one of her wings at an odd angle and starts hopping away. This is a trick some birds use to draw attention away from their nests, eggs and babies. She flopped around on the road just as you would expect a bird to do who couldn’t fly or was otherwise hurt in some way. When we got close enough, and far enough away from the nest, she flew off into a nearby tree. I had heard of this but had never seen it happen. It was fun to watch.

We had so much rain this spring that the cattails are doing great. Even the farm fields, some of which I had little hope for, are now growing well. So, dear readers, leave me some comments about wild life and plant life in your corner of the world. Tell me about it, share some stories.

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