|[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note|
|Something a little different. Out fishing yesterday and freezing my behind off.. wandering up and down the stream bank periodically to try and warm up... hauling my camera out with frozen fingers when anything caught my eye... like the reed beds and cattails.|
The title came to mind as I was editing the photo. Taken on a cold, windy February day, the seed heads were being shaken loose... seeds from last year's cattails being blown away, a promise of tomorrow, carried on the wind.
(Farewell to Yesterday's Tomorrow is the title of a book of short stories written by a friend, SF&F writer Alexei Panshin)
* * * * * * * * * * *
Typha is a genus of about eleven species of monocotyledonous flowering plants in the monogeneric family, Typhaceae. The genus has a largely Northern Hemisphere distribution, but is essentially cosmopolitan. These plants are known as bulrush or bullrush (mainly in British English), cattail or punks (mainly in American English), or in some older British texts or the current guide book Collins Complete British Wildlife as Great Reedmace.
Cattails or bulrushes are wetland plants, typically 1 to 7 m tall (T. minima is smaller: 0.5-1 m), with spongy, strap-like leaves and starchy, creeping stems (rhizomes). The leaves are alternate and mostly basal to a simple, jointless stem that eventually bears the flowers. The rhizomes spread horizontally beneath the surface of muddy ground to start new upright growth, and the spread of cattails is an important part of the process of open water bodies being converted to vegetated marshland and eventually dry land.
Typha plants grow along lake margins and in marshes, often in dense colonies, and are sometimes considered a weed in managed wetlands. The plant's root systems help prevent erosion, and the plants themselves are often home to many insects, birds and amphibians.
Cattail has a wide variety of parts that are edible to humans. The rhizomes are a pleasant, nutritious and energy-rich food source, generally harvested from late Fall to early Spring. These are starchy, but also fibrous, so the starch must be scraped or sucked from the tough fibers. In addition to the rhizomes, cattails have little-known, underground, lateral stems that are quite tasty. In late Spring, the bases of the leaves, while they are young and tender, can be eaten raw or cooked. As the flower spike is developing in early Summer, it can be broken off and eaten, and in mid-Summer, once the flowers are mature, the pollen can be collected and used as a flour supplement or thickener.
The disintegrating heads are used by some birds to line their nests. The downy material was also used by Native Americans as tinder for starting fires.
Native American tribes also used cattail down to line moccasins and papoose boards. An Indian name for cattail meant, “fruit for papoose’s bed”. Today some people still use cattail down to stuff clothing items and pillows. 
The down has also been used to fill life vests in the same manner as kapok.
If using the cattail for pillow stuffing you may be wise to use thick batting material, as the fluff may cause a reaction similar to hives and will be very itchy.
Alex99, jusninasirun has marked this note useful
Only registered TrekNature members may rate photo notes.