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TYPHA latifolia

Image of Typha latifolia

Gerald L. Klingaman

Family

Typhaceae

Botanical Name

TYPHA latifolia

Plant Common Name

Broadleaf Cattail, Common Cattail

Special Notice

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

General Description

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.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    2 - 12

  • Sunset Zone

    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

  • Plant Type

    Aquatics

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    5'-8' / 1.5m - 2.4m

  • Width

    10'-40' / 3.0m - 12.2m

  • Bloom Time

    Summer

  • Native To

    World/Pandemic, North America, Caribbean, Europe, Northern Africa, Asia

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Poorly Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Wet Site

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Ample Water

  • Habit

    Clump-Forming

  • Seasonal Interest

    Summer, Fall

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Sienna, Chocolate

  • Fruit Color

    White, Brown

  • Fruit Color Modifier

    Bicolor

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    Yes

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Coarse

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    Semi-Evergreen

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Dried Flower/Everlasting, Water Gardens, Wildflower

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    Yes

  • Attracts

    Birds

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes