Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Cattails blowing

with 16 comments

Cattails, Typha domingensis; click for greater detail.

People in many parts of the world are familiar with cattails, those erect plants with long, narrow leaves that grow in marshes and along the edges of watercourses. On the morning of August 10th I ventured to Meadow Lake Park in the rapidly growing northern suburb of Austin called Round Rock, where I photographed this colony of cattails (Typha domingensis) turning brown in the drought—the same drought that had caused the lake to recede noticeably from its normal shoreline. A prairie wind was blowing in from across the lake, so I used a shutter speed of 1/500 sec. to stop the motion of the plants as they swayed back and forth. It’s easy to tell, from the leaning stalks and the waving fronds, which way the wind was blowing.

(Hey, the guy can still do a straightforward landscape if he wants to.)

For more information about cattails, you can click here and here too.

© 2011 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 18, 2011 at 5:55 AM

16 Responses

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  1. I’ve never seen cattails so brown. That was a wonderfully informative link you provided. I have heard that cattails clean the water as well – doing plant magic I suppose.

    You used the word prairie wind – do cattails rustle in the wind? One of the most beautiful natural sounds is the eerie rustle of prairie grass.


    August 18, 2011 at 9:15 AM

    • There were some greener ones not too far away, but this group was suffering. I’m pleased that you found the link informative. As for plant magic, I try to do picture magic showing some of the plant magic that can be shown.

      I can’t say that I recall the sound the cattails made because it was obscured by the sound of the wind in my ears, which I do remember. I’ll try to pay attention the next time I’m in that situation.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 18, 2011 at 12:16 PM

  2. Oh I haven’t seen cattails in forever. I miss the west.


    August 19, 2011 at 8:02 AM

  3. I’ll try and get some photos to share!


    August 19, 2011 at 11:24 AM

  4. […] That strategy led me on August 10th to Meadow Lake Park in Round Rock, where I photographed some drying cattails blowing in the wind. The next day I went to a pond between Parmer Lane and Center Ridge Dr. on the prairie in northeast […]

  5. […] picture than if a colony of plants had just been standing there. An example is the photograph of cattails blowing, for which I used a shutter speed of 1/500 sec. to stop the action when the cattails were at one […]

  6. Definitely not what cattails should look like in August!


    August 17, 2022 at 7:33 PM

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