Common Cattail

(Typha latifolia)

File:Typha latifolia 02 bgiu.jpg

Leaf, Flowers Flower Clusters

& Rhizome (=Inflorescence)

File:Typha latifolia nf.jpg File:Typha latifolia 002.JPG

Fruit Cluster (Infructescence)

- split, showing windborne seeds

Family: Typhaceae

Habitat: Marshes, swamps, river borders,

ponds and ditches. It is one of the most

common plants in marshes and swamps.

Often found in dense stands.


Range: Found in every state in the United States.

Also found in many provinces and territories in Canada.

Physical Characteristics:


Leaves: Green, 7.5 inches long and 1 foot across.

Flat and linear.


Flowers: Male flowers form a spike at the top

of the stem. Female flowers are numerous and

dense and form below the male flowers.


Fruits: Brown and round with fine hairs.


Stems: Rhizome (underground stem) grows

horizontal and grows upwards.


Similar Species: Typha angustifloia (narrow

leaf cattail). Unlike in T. latifolia, there is a zone

of separation between the regions with male and

female flowers.


Interesting Facts:


Parts of the plant that are submerged are well-

supplied with air via intercellular channels in

the leaves, stem and roots. Air flow is

facilitated by internal pressurization and pressure

differences (i.e. throughflow convection) between

different parts of the plant.


Cattails can grow in sites with highly reduced substrates

with low oxygen availability in sediments and areas

of relatively high acidity having high levels of

reduced metal ions.


Cattail wetlands have an excellent ability to treat



Typha is able to remove arsenic from drinking water.


Many of its parts are edible to people.


Heads are used by some birds for lining their nest.


Heads were used by some Native American tribes to

line moccasins and bedding.


Typha spreads clonally via growth of rhizomes

(underground horizontal stems) and seeds

carried by wind.


Webpage References:


Additional References:

Bendix, M., Tornbjerg, T, and H. Brix. 1994. Internal gas transport in Typha latifolia L. and

Typha angustifolia L. 1. Humidity-induced pressurization and convective throughflow.


Ciria, M. P., Solana, M. L., and P. Soriano. 2005. Role of Macrophyte Typhalatifolia in a

Constructed Wetland for Wastewater Treatment and Assessment of Its Potential as a Biomass

Fuel. Biosystems Engineering 92: 535544


Dickerman, J. A. and Wetzel, R. G. 1985. Clonal growth in Typha latifolia: population dynamics

and demography of the ramets. Journal of Ecology 73:535-552.


Jespersen, D. N., Sorrell B. K., and H. B. Brix. 1998. Growth and root oxygen release by Typha

latifolia and its effects on sediment methanogenesis Aquatic Botany 61:165-180.