Scientific Name: Typha latifolia

Common Name: broadleaf cattail

Other Common Names: common cattail, cattail, great reedmace, common bulrush, cat of nine tails, cooper's reed, cumbungi

Habit: Common cattails are a familiar sight along the shore of any marsh, pond, lake, or river. They can even be found in ditches.

Leaves: Leaves are erect and blade-like, greater than 1/2 in wide.

Identifying Characteristics: Cattails are very important for many animals. They provide a place for the red-winged blackbird to build a nest to hide their young, a place for fish to hide or nest under the water, and a food source for young ducklings and muskrats. Cattails also give humans many products. Their starchy rhizomes (a horizontal root-like stem that sends out roots and leaves) are ripe for eating in fall and winter, all you have to do is peel and cook them like potatoes. Similar to narrow-leaf cattail, but with broader leaves.

Flower Seed Head: Its flower structure has a dense, dark brown, cylindrical spike on the end of a stout, 3'-10' stem. The staminate (male) portion is positioned above the pistillate (female) portion; they are continuous or slightly separated. Male flower is brown, minute, 3/16 -1/2 long, thickly clustered on a club-like spadix; anthers 1mm-3 mm long Female flower is tiny, 2mm-3mm long, when in flower, 10mm-15mm (3/8 -5/8 in) when in fruit. Female fruiting are pale green when in flower, drying to brownish, later blackish brown or reddish brown, in fruit, often mottled with whitish patches of pistil-hair tips.

Seed Fruit: Common Cattail has a tiny fruit with tufted nutlet. Seeds are minute, and numerous.

Where Found: They can be found throughout the US.

  • Life cycle: perennial

  • Plant type: Grass-like

  • Auricle: present

  • Plant family: Typhaceae

  • Leaf arrangement: rolled in bud

  • Hair surface: hairs from base to tip; no hairs; hairs on basal half only

  • Ligule: none

  • Length: none

  • Root structure: rhizomes present; fibrous

  • Seed head: spike

  • Width: 6 to 15 mm; more than 15 mm

  • Grass stem: flat or oval