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Common Cattails (Typha latifolia).  Common cattails inhabit marshy areas and can grow up to 9 feet in length.  Each brown top is made up of thousands of tiny brown flowers all tightly compressed into a compact mass on the top of the stem.  During late summer and early fall, these structures will begin to come apart, releasing their seeds into the wind as they do so.

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Photographs by Valerie Lykes