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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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Sunday - April 22, 2007

From: Superior, WI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Pests, Poisonous Plants
Title: Using cattail fluff to stuff pillows
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Me and my children filled a pillow case with cattail feathers today and brought it home. My mother says that it is going to get or attract bugs. Are there any dangers in this little project? Thank you for your time. God Bless You!!!

ANSWER:

For centuries all parts of Typha latifolia (broadleaf cattail) has had many uses, including food and as well as construction and insulation material for both people and wildlife.

There is the possibility that there are insects included with the fluff, but those could probably be eliminated by putting the pillow in your freezer for a period of time. However, some people have found that they developed hives (resumably from being allergic to the plant) when they slept on a pillow stuffed with the cattail fluff and accompanying seeds. Covering the pillow with a thicker cloth might (or might not) help to eliminate this problem if you are allergic to the plant or its seeds.

 

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