Is there a new genetically modified form of cattail that is taking over wetlands and is not as good for wildlife as native cattail?
Originally, the common cattail was the only cattail present in western MN. However, within the last few decades narrow-leaved cattail, which is not native to the U.S., was introduced and began replacing and/or hybridizing with common cattail. Today, it is very rare to find common cattail in area wetlands. Narrow-leaved cattail and hybrid cattail are the primary species present today. These plants are able to grow in much deeper water than common cattail. As a result, many wetlands which only had scattered patches of cattails (common cattails) are now completely dominated by cattails (narrow-leaved and hybrid cattails). When wetlands are completely dominated by cattails, the kinds of wildlife species present and population numbers, changes. For instance, ducks prefer a mix of cattails and open water and will not use a wetland dominated by cattails. However, red-winged blackbirds nest in cattails and are benefited by an increased number of cattail plants.
Response by Bruce Freske, Morris Wetland Management District Manager, USFWS