Thursday, September 24, 2009

Our Cattail Nature Study

Some of you may know that living down in South Texas can be a challenge when it comes to weather.  Up north there is snow to deal with but down here there is heat and mosquitoes.  This year was particularly hard due to the drought conditions and the heat we have had.  There were cracks in the ground big enough to put a foot through.  I did not attempt to do that though.

So what does this all have to do with cattails?  We don't have any.  There were some but have all withered and died.  Any ponds that were out there with cattails are now dry and gone.  Next week we will be going on vacation so we will keep our eyes open for the live kind.  For now we took pictures of what they look like with no life in them.  It's a pretty sad story.

What did we learn?  I found a site that had some interesting things about cattails.  We learned that they were used for medicine, clothing and even food.  Imagine that!  It has even been found as mats in caves.  So many ways to use one plant.  The liquid jelly from young leaves was used on sores and wounds.  The starch from this plant was used to thicken soups and we also found some recipes out there of people who stir fry it.  Also the brown flower heads make good "punks," keeping a slowly-burning flame, with a smoke that drives insects away.  Maybe I'll plant some and use them on our mosquitoes.

There were so many uses for this plant and we read a lot and looked at pictures of what they should look like when alive.  Now we will have to keep our eyes peeled for them on our trip.  I also made my own notebooking page.  I've seen others out there but I usually always make my own things.  I was asked by a friend if I follow directions and do everything the way it is on the instructions and of course, I don't.  I also had my nephews here so they joined in also. 

I will have you all know that our local homeschool group was on the lookout for cattails all week.  Asking around anyone that travels.  Husbands were also asked to keep an eye for them on their way to work.  Not one single live cattail for miles.  I traveled 34 miles round trip to get the few pictures that I got.  Maybe next year will be better.  We'll have to keep an eye on that location and see if they come back with the rain we have been getting this week.  Rain, finally!

By the way, I will be following Barb's new challenges this time around.  Just so you know.         


School for Us said...

That's a great way to study the cattails. :-) I've been asking around. I did find some, but they are along the road and you'd have to stop and wade through water & weeds to get to them. But, I might take my camera and get some photos. Since we can't get up close (we've been asking around, too), this sounds like a good way for us to participate!

live4evermom said...

It was fun. I heard there were some up in your area. Down here we have had less rain than you guys. Those poor cattails were all gone.