Typha latifolia L.

Broad-Leaved Cattail
Typhaceae (Cattail Family)


Broad-leaved cattail is a tall perennial to 8' high with thick, spongy stems and long, linear, parallel-veined, light green leaves 3/8" to 5/8" wide.  There are approximately 12-16 of these leaves per plant and they moderately exceed the female spikes and are flat or slightly curved in cross section, and sheathed at the base.  Cattails have both staminate flower spikes, above, and pistillate spikes below, 7"-8" long and 1-1/4" wide, and in this species of cattail there is normally no gap between the two spikes. The spikes are red-brown at maturity. Neither male or female flowers have perianths. The male spikes have flowers with simple, threadlike, white bracts, 2-7 stamens with slender filaments, and deep orange-yellow pollen, and the female spikes have both fertile and sterile flowers, the fertile flowers with a single-chambered ovary and widely lanceolate stigmas, and the sterile flowers with ovaries that are truncate to rounded. The fruit is a dry, thin-walled achene which easily dehisces in water. Broad-leaved cattail is found in year-round streams and at the edges of ponds and marshes, below 6000', throughout California and ranging to Alaska, the East Coast, Central America, Europe and Africa.  It blooms from June to July.  All N. American species hybridize.

Click here for Latin name derivations: 1) Typha 2) latifolia.
Pronunciation: TIE-fa la-ti-FO-lee-a.
Click here for Botanical Term Meanings.