Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Cattail seeds coming loose

with 20 comments

Yes, cattail seeds coming loose at Riata Trace Pond in northwest Austin on February 15. Don’t you love the chaos? A slightly earlier phase in the process appeared, and from a greater distance, in the post of December 29. Both times I wore hip-high rubber boots so I could wade into the water where the cattails were growing.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 28, 2012 at 5:46 AM

20 Responses

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  1. Chaos and potential.


    February 28, 2012 at 5:55 AM

  2. We have cattails down the road. I’ve been wanting to get closer to take a picture but now I think the photo has been taken! Yours is stunning! I will use the excuse I must wait until I buy a better camera to take better pictures! lol

    Bonnie Michelle

    February 28, 2012 at 6:28 AM

    • Thanks, Bonnie. I’m happy to have saved you the trouble. Good camera aside, I don’t know if you’d find hip-high rubber boots becoming.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 28, 2012 at 6:34 AM

      • But I could borrow my husband’s. Although being an avid fisherman I don’t think he’d appreciate the mud that would surely coat them!

        Bonnie Michelle

        February 28, 2012 at 6:47 AM

      • You’re right about the mud: I carry a large plastic bag in my car trunk so I can put my boots in it when they get muddied up.

        Steve Schwartzman

        February 28, 2012 at 6:56 AM

  3. I really like the textures and design of the seeds, which are ready to do their duty. Reminds me of Thoreau’s book Faith in a Seed, Sally

    Sally W. Donatello

    February 28, 2012 at 7:57 AM

    • Sometimes I’m a fiend for textures. In addition, seeds don’t get their due, photographically, so I do my thing for them from time to time. Thanks for reminding me about Faith in a Seed, which I’d heard about years ago but have still never read; I’ll have to remedy that.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 28, 2012 at 8:23 AM

  4. Hi Steve .. Timothy’s Grass – Yay .. I wondered what it looked like and hadn’t looked it up in Wikipedia – so now I see it in even greater detail and much better photography .. it’s amazing .. also that you had to wade to get near it .. Fascinating .. cheers Hilary


    February 28, 2012 at 10:27 AM

    • I wasn’t familiar with Timothy grass so I looked it up. It’s Phleum pratense, a grass native to much of Europe. I found a picture of its inflorescence, and I can see its resemblance to what’s in my photograph, but the cattails that we have here are a different plant, Typha latifolia.

      Because cattails so often grow in water, my boots have proved a great help in photographing them—and plenty of other things, too.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 28, 2012 at 11:47 AM

      • Hi Steve .. thanks for that enlightenment .. still I’m glad I’ve spotted Timothy Grass.

        Sometimes I wish I had a better understanding of Latin names and Linnaean terms .. but many thanks for correcting me …

        and I bet your boots have stood you in good stead … cheers Hilary


        February 28, 2012 at 11:56 AM

  5. Ohh wow this picture brings back some great memories 🙂 I used to play with cattails when I was little. Love it!


    February 28, 2012 at 11:59 AM

    • Happy memories of childhood: it’s not too late for the inner child in you to go out and find some cattails to play with now.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 28, 2012 at 1:32 PM

  6. […] feet away from the chaos of the last picture, taken at Riata Trace Pond on February 15, was this contrasting and much simpler scene, where some […]

  7. I still remember my surprise and delight, when as a child I touched one of these and the seeds exploded out!
    ~ Lynda


    February 28, 2012 at 3:49 PM

    • You and Niki (in the previous comment) have similar happy memories of cattails from childhood. The cattails didn’t even have to be plugged in or connected to the Internet—and they didn’t make noise.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 28, 2012 at 4:02 PM

  8. I really like this. I like cattails anyway, and this close look captures their essence.


    February 28, 2012 at 9:48 PM

  9. Too late to use these for torches. But the goldfinches will be feasting – it’s such fun to watch them cling to the plants and eat to their hearts’ content.

    As a kid, I loved watching milkweed pods split. But the cattails have their own good qualities. When the seeds are ready to fly, if you run your finger down a seemingly intact head, you can open it up as quickly as if it had a zipper. Great fun!


    February 29, 2012 at 8:09 AM

    • Thanks for the tip: I’ll try unzipping a cattail the next time I encounter one. And I’ll be on the lookout for birds feasting on one, which I haven’t seen.

      As for milkweeds, they’re among my favorite things to photograph (I know, what isn’t?). Last year in these pages I showed wand milkweed, but no ripe pods with fluff, whether of that species or any other. I’ll have to rectify that this year when the season comes.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 29, 2012 at 8:58 AM

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