Helping You Become a More Successful Gardener
Gerald L. Klingaman
Broadleaf Cattail, Common Cattail
This entry has yet to be reviewed and approved by L2G editors.
Whipping in the breezes, the tall leaf blades and brown sausage-like flower clusters and seedheads of the common cattail bring wildlife shelter and wispy texture to lake shorelines. A clumping, fast-growing and usually invasive perennial that can be evergreen in tropical regions, it is native worldwide in the Northern Hemisphere, including Asia, northern Africa, Europe and North America. Often the foliage browns in winter and will rejuvenate once shoreline waters and soils warm in spring. It forms thickets and will spread indefinitely.
The very tall, slender, strappy leaves are a matte 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 green flowers that that has no gap between two. Male flowers desintigrate after shedding pollen. The lower female flower clusters makes the persistant "cattail" and becomes 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 back seeds with white cottony sails. Repeated frosts will turn the foliage dry and tan.
Grow common cattail in full to partial sun in coarse loam and sands in shallow, non-flowering freshwater. It is tolerant of slightly brackish (salty) water as well as non-submerged soils that are wet and soggy. The seeds and dried rhizomes can be ground into a flour for baking. This species is aggressive and thus is not a good choice for ornamental use in water gardens. Use it as a naturalizing "wildflower" on water's edge. It is contained only by deep water or dry soil.
This species readily hybridizes with narrowleaf cattail to form Typha glauca, which is a very durable and extremely aggressive if not blatantly invasive aquatic plant.
12 - 1
2 - 12
A1, A2, A3, H1, H2, 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
Full Sun, Partial Sun
5'-8' / 1.5m - 2.4m
10'-40' / 3.0m - 12.2m
World/Pandemic, North America, Caribbean, Europe, Northern Africa, Asia
Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline
Dried Flower/Everlasting, Water Gardens, Wildflower
Preferred Commerce. All Rights Reserved.