Cattails

Cattail heads
Alyssa Lu/USFWS.

Cattails are a staple in any wetland habitat and can be found in many areas of the refuge. Easily recognized by its brown flowering head, the fluffy seeds break free of the head and can be seen floating in the autumn breeze. Aside from spreading seeds, cattails can reproduce through its rhizomes. A rhizome is a system of horizontally growing roots that can send up shoots of new plants. As the air chills further, leading us into winter, the stems and leaves turn brown and die. The rhizome however stays very much alive, dormant under the frigid ground. These starchy rhizomes are edible, and the yellow pollen can be used to make pancakes.