Refugium | News

Human vs. Cattail: How We Fought an Expansive Species

Sometimes it's good to get into a fight you know you can't win.

This was exactly our situation when we fought against the cattails a few weeks ago.

Everyone is familiar with the broadleaf cattail (Typha latifolia). It's a very abundant aquatic plant that grows on the banks of still and slow flowing bodies of water. It likes mud, grows to a height of 2.5 meters, and forms two-stemmed inflorescences that are usually called "cigars".

Although cattails are often used as ornamental plants and sometimes can even be useful, we at Refugium don't like them. In our site in the Doupovské Mountains, one of the three ponds we own here is dramatically overgrown with them. Coincidentally, the pond is called Ledviny (Czech for kidneys), and is the most valuable pond we have in the region.

Ledviny Pond is actually a lake with dark, clear water. The surface is covered with floating pondweed and the increasingly rare bluntleaf pondweed grows below the surface. In addition to the northern crested newt, the smooth newt, and alpine newt, the critically endangered crucian carp also lives here.

They are all threatened by the massive expansion of cattails, and we decided to take action. For two days, we hacked, pulled, and carted away as much as we could until two relatively impressive piles were created. We also set aside research plots where we test which technique eliminates the cattails the most efficiently.

To summarize: we most certainly didn't win the fight against cattails in Ledviny Pond, but at least we dealt them a major blow. 💪🏼

P.S. Worth mentioning–the division of labor in our three-person unit predictably went like this: Filip and Prokop played around with sickles, while Eliška pulled tons of plants and mud out of the water. This will definitely be a topic of discussion at our next team building.