Today we look at cat-o-nine tales. Growing up in Vermont, Cat-o-nine-tails grew in swampy areas along the roads, in the setbacks of ponds and in low lying damp areas. I remember picking them with my mother and feeling the roughness of their brown blossoms. When we picked them in the late fall they would fall apart in clouds of fluff to disperse in the wind looking for another damp spot to sprout and grow new plants.
When we walked down to the frog pond in summer we would notice the Redwinged Blackbirds sitting on the Cat-o-nine-tails. The Cat-o-nine-tails stuck up a bit higher than the rest of the vegetation proving a perch for the blackbirds while they searched for insects to devour.
My sister and I loved to have sword fights with the Cat-o-nine-tails. Their stiff stems held up quite well and there were always more when the ones we were using broke.
How sad I felt one day when I heard than an invasive species, Purple Loosestrife is taking over the Cat-o-nine-tail’s habitat. Though Purple Loosestrifeis a beautiful plant, I would feel that the world was a poorer place if Cat-o-nine-tails no longer existed.
More recently I discovered what fun it can be to use a Cat-o-nine-tail as a pointer for word walls. They are a delightful addition to our Frog Unit Study. The children love to hold the Cat-o-nine-tail and point to words that we are reading about frogs and their habitat.