July 31, 2008

cat tails

click photo for full-size image
photo by Donald Kinney

Now, I could tell you all about that silly thing attached to the butt of my Kitty, but actually I know very little about cat tails that grow in marshy areas, so I had to do a bit of checking with Wikipedia:

[[[ quote ]]]
The most widespread species of cat tails is Typha latifolia, extending across the entire temperate Northern Hemisphere.   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.

Edible uses:   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.

Typha seeds are very small, embedded in down parachutes, and very effectively wind-dispersed.

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.

[[[ end quote ]]]

So there you have it -- but personally I think I'll skip them as food, and I probably won't be lining my moccasins or papoose with them, or stuffing my pillow with them either...   I found these handsome cat tails on the banks of Phoenix Lake, behind the tiny town of Ross, in Marin County, California...   See you there...

CLICK to visit my Daily-Duo
CLICK to visit KittyBLOG -- the daily doings of my cat.
CLICK for what I call my BIG site.

Your comments are invited and welcome.


kjpweb said...

Good one! I tried to take some Cattail pictures the other day, they were nowhere as good as this! Good info, too!
Cheers, Klaus

Mary said...

Yeah, they don't look all that tempting as lunch, but it is a terrific photo! :)

AphotoAday said...

THANKS KLAUS AND MARY for your kind compliments on the photo...

You and the others may be interested to see how I used it on KittyBLOG last week -- the URL is:

Anyway, this is a shot that I wished I had not left my tripod in the car...   That darned Canon5D with the 70-200 "L" zoom lens is heavy enough, without having to pack that darned tripod along with me every place I go...   Fortunately, I think the image-stabilization feature on the lens helped me out quite a bit, but I'm glad I didn't need to stop the lens way down for this shot or I may have run into trouble...   (I always try to use the low ISO of 100 to keep my noise down in case I need to make a large print in the future)

But getting back to the scene, this was, indeed, a pleasant place...   It was before 7AM, so the throngs of joggers and bicyclers were still in bed and I had the place all to myself -- except for the birds and ducks...

Phoenix lake is a great spot, and I have only been there a few times in the past 40 years -- it really isn't far away, but once I get there it feels like a very distant place, indeed...

The long hike around Phoenix lake is usually sufficient, but on that Saturday I felt compelled to continue my walk and take the steep, very steep, fire-road up to Lake Lagunitas...   Once I got up there I was completely worn out, and couldn't find much to photograph -- but I guess I needed the exercise anyway...

Time now to get off my butt and go take another walk -- this one at Roy's Redwoods -- a place I've been neglecting recently...   But of course, before I can do that I'll have to get this darned Kitty off my lap... (every time I'm about ready to get up, she settles in)

Best regards to all,
Don, and of course, Kitty

Tomate Farcie said...

These are pretty cool shots (the one above, too)! I didn't know you call these "cat tails" . Can't even remember the last time I saw some! You mentioned Ross, and this gave me a craving for a long bike ride like I used to go on in Marin. There are some pretty cool mtn bike trails (all levels from beginners to advanced) behind Ross, although I completely forgot how to get there now.

By the way, I looked up your camera; the body alone weighs almost a kg!! Add the lense(s), the bag you undoubtedly carry around all the time with extra batteries, filters, flash, etc... pfeew that sure is a lot of weight!!!

Tomate Farcie said...

I forgot, does Sean Penn still live in Ross? Just curious :)

AphotoAday said...


Well, I haven't seen much activity lately around Sean Penn's house (on Laural Grove the corner across from the Art & Garden place, and the fire & police station), and I really don't keep up on these things but I guess his wife (Robin Wright) dumped him a year or so ago... (I used to spot her occasionally with a kid in tow at Safeway)

And yes, I guess they used to be one happy family, and I saw them once all out walking around on Laurel Grove... (I often take Laural Grove to avoid traffic in the Kentfield (college) area... Sometimes while driving down that street I like to pretend that I'm rich enough to afford living there... (oh, money isn't everything, I guess)

--And yeah, that Canon5D with the big lens is heavy alright...   When it first arrived I thought it was going to be a big problem, but I quickly got used to it, and now I think that the extra weight actually allows me to steady the camera when hand-holding it... --One thing about the 5D -- it's NOT idiot-proof, and I'm a qualified idiot at times, so I need to pay attention to what I'm doing when using it... --The thing about the 5D is that it has a "full-size" sensor, meaning that the sensor is the same size as a 24x36mm piece of film... Most all other cameras on the market use only a half-size sensor... And yep, the 5D (and that lens) co$ts a bundle, but I think it is worth every penny!

Anonymous said...

Geeze, every time I get great light with cat tails, they're always so ratty looking. Great photos Donald!

I need your help, Donald. I'm having a "Name the Newt" contest on my web site for the opportunity to win my September Print of the Month.

I have a post about it on my blog here.

I'd appreciate your getting the word out since I'd like to see a blogger win (but I'm not even a judge in my own contest...)

Thanks, Jim

AphotoAday said...

I got my submission into the contest, and I'm absolutely sure I'm going to win, so the rest of you guys needn't even bother (LOL)... The name I picked is top secret at this point...

And by the way, everybody -- you really should go check out Jim W. Moore's blog (and his website also)... The man REALLY knows his stuff -- this pro is another Ansel Adams if I ever saw one...
You can check out his blog over at:

Anna said...

I've always loved these! We called them bullrushes. We had them growing in some of the ponds around our farm, including 3 of them along a gravel road that ran between two sections of our farm. My youngest brother and I would take the fluff and make these HUGE (to us) mountains in the middle of the road, then hide in the ditch, waiting for a car to go by. Somehow, the fluff never quite exploded all over, like we expected it to. LOL

We never thought to eat them, though. The first I heard of that was from some TV show that had a city dude showing how to cut up the rhizome for eating. I thought that was the silliest thing. *L*

Thanks for bringing up some fond memories!


Louise said...

Great picture. I love taking cattail pictures, and like you, I think I'll stick with that. I'd have to be pretty hungry to start eating any part of them.

Lake Lady said...

Great shot! I never knew cat-tails were edible and hope I never have to prove it! Thanks for popping into my sites and leaving your nice comments. I was about to quote your gov but I'll stick with "I shall return" instead! ;-)

Petrus said...

Yes this is a good clear photo - like it a lot ..

Anonymous said...

On this piece you summarize a couple of the most main views!
Simple to read through and inclusive of useful
Thanks a lot for posting Blogger: a photo a day - photos by Donald Kinney!

My site - Toenail Fungus
Also see my webpage - laser nail fungus

Anonymous said...

Woah! I'm really digging the template/theme of this site. It's simple,
yet effective. A lot of times it's difficult to get that "perfect balance" between superb usability and appearance. I must say that you've done a very good job with
this. Also, the blog loads extremely fast for me on Firefox.

Great Blog!

my web-site - Shooting Games
My website :: Shooting Games

Anonymous said...

I was thinking about adding a website link back to your site
since both of our web sites are based around the same topic.
Would you prefer I link to you using your website address: http:
//www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=9868138&postID=5179559486136354020 or
web site title: Blogger: a photo a day - photos by Donald Kinney.
Please let me know! Thankyou

Have a look at my web page :: Gas Mileage
Also see my site > Gas Mileage

under construction