Milk White Lake, in Hiawatha National Forest, is the perfect habitat for cattails. Cattails are a marvel of nature. Underwater, they provide a safe haven for tiny fish and attract many of the smaller aquatic creatures that are food for birds and other wildlife. Above water, they offer shelter from winter cold and wind for mammals and birds, and a source of nesting material with their leaves and seeds. Humans have used cattails for rush bottom furniture, baskets and mats. The downy seeds have been used to stuff pillows and mattresses, and during World War II were used to stuff life jackets. All parts of the cattail plant, from the roots to the flower heads, are edible. The rootstock can be boiled or roasted, or dried and ground into a powdery flour. The center of the stalks is thick and starchy and the flower heads can be roasted for a nutty-tasting treat. Cattail plants have industrial uses as well. Plant parts can be distilled into ethyl alcohol for antifreeze or an inexpensive solvent, and the stems produce an ingredient for shaving cream. Amazing!
[3 captures hand-blended for focus stacking]
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Copyright 2019 Steve Carter