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Typha latifolia

Common Name: Common Cattail
Family: Typhaceae
  


Entry Author:  J. Rogers and C. Westring
Description:   Native perennial herb growing to 3 meters in height.  Plays an important role in the reduction of pollution by absorbing excess nitrogen and phosphorus. 
Leaves: 
Upright leaves arising from base or alternating along the stem.  Bluish or grayish green, flat, approximately 2.5 cm wide. Veins run parallel through the leaves 
Flowers: 
Flowers are arranged in two connected spikes. Male, staminate,  flowers (top spike) are of a light brown to white color.  Female, pistillate,  flowers (bottom spike) are darker in color and create a much wider spike
Seeds: 
Tiny seeds possessing a cottony "parachute" designed to float along water and air; arranged around the spike as if spokes of a wheel   
Stem:  Erect, 2 cm in diameter in the middle, tapering to 1 cm near flower structure
Branching Pattern:
 Basal
Height:  1-2.7 meters tall
Conditions/Habitat/Kind of Forest: Fresh marshes and shallow wet areas;  normally thrive in basic waters (> pH 7)
Range:  Across much of the U.S. excluding the Rocky Mountain states and the Southwest.  Also found throughout Eurasia and Northern Africa
Hardiness Zone: USDA zones 3-10
Conservation Status-US/ World Wide: Common
Uses (Human):  Shoots and flowers can be eaten; pollen can be mixed w/ flour for high protein; rhizome may be cooked and eaten like a potato; young spikes are used to make medicinal tea; young leaves are used as salad greens.  

References:

Chadde, Steve W.  A Great Lakes Wetland Flora (2nd ed.).  Michigan: PocketFlora Press, 2002.

Laurentian Center Plant Key.  2000.  Laurentian Environmental Center.  Accessed:  November 29, 2005.< http://laurentiancenter.com/plantkey/plants/cattailcommon.html>

Redington, Charles B.  Plants in Wetlands.  Iowa: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, 1994.

Rook, E.  Aquatic Plants of the North: Typha latifolia.   February 26, 2004.  Accessed: November 29, 2005.  <http://www.rook.org/earl/bwca/nature/aquatics/typhalat.html>

United States Department of Agriculture.
Common Weeds of the United States.  New York: Dover Publications, 1971. 

This page was created by: J. Chichester, Northampton Community College, and K. Rice and C. Westring, Muhlenberg College
Last updated 12/21/05