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TYPHA angustifolia

Image of Typha angustifolia

James H. Schutte



Botanical Name

TYPHA angustifolia

Plant Common Name

Nail Rod, Narrowleaf Cattail

Special Notice

This entry has yet to be reviewed and approved by L2G editors.

General Description

Whipping in the breezes, the twisting and slender leaf blades and slender brown sausage-like flower clusters and seedheads of the narrowleaf cattail bring wildlife shelter and wispy texture to lake shorelines. A clumping, fast-growing and aggressive aquatic perennial, it is native to central eastern North America and the Central Valley of California, naturalized elsewhere on the continent. This species tolerates saltier and deeper waters than the broadleaf cattail, Typha latifolia.

The very tall, slenger, strappy leaves are a glossy green and emerge from thick rhizomes (underground stems) that are growing in mucky soils under shallow freshwater. The leaves form in a fan-like clump. In spring to summer (depending on mildness of climate), sturdy stems rise nearly as tall as the foliage and bears two sausage-like clusters of pale yellow flowers. The upper cluster are the male blossoms, the lower all female flowers; there is a marked gap between the two on the stem. Male flowers desintigrate after shedding pollen. The female flowers in the "cattail" become reddish to chocolatey brown when they ripen and dry. By autumn, the cattail becomes so dried that it will eventually explode in wind, releasing the black seeds with white cottony sails. The foliage dries to tan in winter cold.

Grow narrowleaf cattail in full to partial sun in coarse loam and sands in shallow, non-flowing freshwater. It is very tolerant of brackish (salty) water as well as non-submerged soils that are wet and soggy. This species is aggressive and thus is not a good choice for ornamental use in water gardens. Use it as a naturalizing "wildflower". Deep water and dry soil is the only thing that will contain its spread.

This species readily hybridizes with broadleaf cattail to form Typha glauca, which is a very durable and extremely aggressive if not blatantly invasive aquatic plant.


  • AHS Heat Zone

    10 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    3 - 10

  • Sunset Zone

    A1, A2, A3, H1, 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type


  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    4'-6' / 1.2m - 1.8m

  • Width

    8'-20' / 2.4m - 6.1m

  • Bloom Time

    Early Summer, Summer

  • Native To

    North America, United States, Northeastern United States, Mid-Atlantic United States, Southeastern United States, North-Central United States, Central United States, Western United States, California, Canada

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Poorly Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Wet Site

  • Growth Rate


  • Water Requirements

    Ample Water

  • Habit


  • Seasonal Interest

    Summer, Fall

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest


  • Flower Color

    Light Yellow, Light Green

  • Fruit Color

    Brown, Sienna

  • Foliage Color (Spring)


  • Foliage Color (Summer)


  • Foliage Color (Fall)


  • Fragrant Flowers


  • Fragrant Fruit


  • Fragrant Foliage


  • Bark or Stem Fragrant


  • Repeat Bloomer


  • Showy Fruit


  • Edible Fruit


  • Showy Foliage


  • Foliage Texture


  • Foliage Sheen


  • Evergreen


  • Showy Bark


Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Dried Flower/Everlasting, Wildflower

  • Sharp or Has Thorns


  • Invasive


  • Self-Sowing