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Typha latifolia

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Kemper Code:  A407

Common Name: cattail
Zone: 3 to 10
Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Typhaceae
Missouri Native: Yes
Native Range: North America, Europe, northern and central Asia, northern Africa
Height: 4 to 6 feet
Spread: 4 to 6 feet
Bloom Time: June - July   Bloom Data
Bloom Color: Yellow (male); green (female)
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Wet
Maintenance: Medium

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Plant Culture and Characteristics

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  Uses:       Wildlife:   Flowers:   Leaves:   Fruit:
Hedge Suitable as annual Attracts birds Has showy flowers Leaves colorful Has showy fruit
Shade tree Culinary herb Attracts Has fragrant flowers Leaves fragrant Fruit edible
Street tree Vegetable   hummingbirds Flowers not showy Good fall color   Other:
Flowering tree Water garden plant Attracts Good cut flower Evergreen Winter interest
Gr. cover (<1') Will naturalize   butterflies Good dried flower     Thorns or spines

General 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:

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.


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


Water gardens, ponds.

Missouri Botanical Garden, 2001-2011

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  High resolution image available.