Typha latifolia
Common Name: broadleaf cattail
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Typhaceae
Native Range: North America, Europe, northern and central Asia, northern Africa
Zone: 3 to 10
Height: 4.00 to 6.00 feet
Spread: 4.00 to 6.00 feet
Bloom Time: June to July
Bloom Description: Yellow (male); green (female)
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Wet
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Naturalize, Rain Garden
Flower: Showy
Attracts: Birds
Fruit: Showy

Culture

Easily grown in rich loams in full sun to part shade in water to 12” deep. Cattails are aggressive colonizers that if left unrestrained will crowd out most other marginal plants. Plant in containers or tubs to restrain spread. If planted directly in the muddy shallows of ponds or pools, site plants carefully because the roots go deep and are hard to eradicate once established. Plants may self-seed.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Typha latifolia, called common cattail, is native to marshes, swamps and wetlands in North America, Europe and Asia. It is the common cattail found throughout the State of Missouri. It is a marginal aquatic perennial that spreads by creeping rhizomes to form dense colonies in shallow water. Features narrow, upright, sword-like, linear, mostly basal, green leaves (to 7’ long) and a stiff, unbranched central flower stalk that typically rises equal to or slightly less than the height of the leaves (usually around 6’ tall but infrequently to as much as 10’). Plants are monoecious, with each flower stalk being topped by two sets of minute flowers densely packed into a cylindrical inflorescence. Yellowish male (staminate) flowers are located at the top of the inflorescence and greenish female (pistillate) flowers are located underneath. In this species, the staminate and pistillate flowers are not separated by a gap. Flowers bloom in summer. After bloom, the male flowers rapidly disperse, leaving a naked stalk tip. The pollinated female flowers turn brown as the seeds mature, forming the familiar cylindrical, sausage-like, cattail fruiting spike (to 9” long in this species). Foliage turns yellow-brown in autumn. Fruiting spikes usually persist to early winter before disintegrating. Cattails are valued for both fresh and dried flower arrangements. Large stands of cattails serve as important nesting areas and cover for wildlife.

Genus name comes from the Greek name.

Specific epithet means broad-leaved.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Aggressive spreader outside of containers.

Garden Uses

Water gardens, ponds.