broad-leaved cattail

(Typha latifolia)

Conservation Status
broad-leaved cattail
  IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern


N5 - Secure

SNR - Unranked


not listed

Wetland Indicator Status
  Great Plains

OBL - Obligate wetland


OBL - Obligate wetland

  Northcentral & Northeast

OBL - Obligate wetland


Broad-leaved cattail is a 3 to 9 tall, erect, perennial forb that rises on a single stem or cluster of stems from a thick, mostly horizontal, unbranched rhizome. It grows in muddy soil, often with its roots underwater.

The stems are erect, stiff, unbranched, light green, hairless, and round in cross section. They are to ¾ thick in the middle, to ¼ thick near the inflorescence.

The leaves are mostly basal, alternate, bluish-green to grayish-green, linear, and flat on the back. They are to 1 wide, though usually no more than wide, usually slightly longer than the flowering spike. They sheath the stem at the base and taper to a sharp point at the tip. They have parallel veins but do not have a prominent midrib. When fresh they are usually covered with a whitish, waxy bloom (glaucous).

The inflorescence is a dense spike of minute staminate (male) and pistillate (female) flowers at the end of the stem.

The staminate-flowered portion of the spike is above and usually contiguous with, not separated by a length of naked stem from, the pistillate-flowered portion. When in flower it is to ¾ thick and about as long as the pistillate portion. The male flowers are straw-colored to colorless.

The pistillate-flowered portion of the spike is 2 to 10 long and 3 16 to 5 16 thick when in flower. When in fruit it is brown and 1 to 1¼ thick. The female flowers are light green at first, drying brown.

The fruit is a thin-walled achene with hairs attached.




3 to 9


Flower Color


Green, drying brown


Similar Species


Narrow-leaved cattail (Typha angustifolia) has narrower, green leaves that are up to ½ wide, convex on the underside, and extend well above the flowering spike. The staminate spike of the flowering stalk is separated from the pistillate spike ½ to 4¾. When in fruit, the pistillate spike is no more than thick.

Hybrid cattail (Typha × glauca) occurs in places where both broad-leaved cattail and narrow-leaved cattail are present. It is a hybrid with characteristics that are intermediate between the two parent species.


Wet to damp. Marshes, ditches, shallows. Full sun.




May to July


Pests and Diseases






Distribution Map



2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 28, 29, 30.








Common and widespread

  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Liliopsida (monocots)  


Poales (grasses, sedges, cattails, and allies)  


Typhaceae (bulrushes, cattails, and allies)  
  Tribe Typheae  


Typha (cattails)  





Common Names


broad-leaved cattail

broadleaf cattail

common cattail

Cooper’s reed

giant reed-mace

great cattail

soft flag













A dry, one-chambered, single-seeded fruit, formed from a single carpel, with the seed attached to the membranous outer layer (wall) only by the seed stalk; the wall, formed entirely from the wall of the superior ovary, does not split open at maturity, but relies on decay or predation to release the contents.



Pale green or bluish gray due to a whitish, powdery or waxy film, as on a plum or a grape.



A horizontal, usually underground stem. It serves as a reproductive structure, producing roots below and shoots above at the nodes.



The lower part of the leaf that surrounds the stem.

Visitor Photos

Share your photo of this plant.

  This button not working for you?
Simply email us at
Attach one or more photos and, if you like, a caption.






    broad-leaved cattail   broad-leaved cattail  
    broad-leaved cattail      


    broad-leaved cattail   broad-leaved cattail  

Female Spike

    broad-leaved cattail   broad-leaved cattail  


    broad-leaved cattail   broad-leaved cattail  
    broad-leaved cattail      



  Typha latifolia
Matt Lavin
  Typha latifolia  

The monoecious species often forms dense stands in standing year-round water. The staminate inflorescences sits above and adjacent to the pistillate inflorescence.




Visitor Videos

Share your video of this plant.

  This button not working for you?
Simply email us at
Attach a video, a YouTube link, or a cloud storage link.


Other Videos
  Common Bulrush (Typha Latifolia) - 2012-06-11

Published on Jun 12, 2012

Typha latifolia (Bulrush, Common Bulrush, Broadleaf Cattail, Common Cattail, Great Reedmace, Cooper's reed, Cumbungi) is a perennial herbaceous plant in the genus Typha

De grote lisdodde (Typha latifolia) is een plant uit de lisdoddefamilie (Typhaceae)

  Cattail and Bulrush part 2

Published on Jun 28, 2012

A comparison between narrowleaf cattail and common cattail as well as a comparison between hardsterm bulrush and great bulrush.




Visitor Sightings

Report a sighting of this plant.

  This button not working for you?
Simply email us at
Be sure to include a location.



Antelope Valley SNA

Baker Park Reserve

Belgium Prairie

Blue Mounds State Park

Boot Lake SNA

Cleary Lake Regional Park

Clifton E. French Regional Park

Des Moines River SNA

Dry Sand WMA

Elm Creek Park Reserve

Felton Prairie SNA, Shrike Unit

Felton WMA

Flandrau State Park

Foxhome Prairie

Glacial Lakes Preserve

Glacial Lakes State Park

Glendalough State Park

Glynn Prairie SNA

Greenwater Lake SNA

Hardscrabble Woods / MG Tusler Sanctuary

Hole-in-the-Mountain Prairie

Holthe Prairie SNA

Iron Horse Prairie SNA

Iron Springs Bog SNA

Itasca State Park

Jensen Memorial WMA

John Peter Hoffman Spring Brook Valley WMA

Joseph A. Tauer Prairie SNA

Kasota Prairie SNA

Kettledrummer Prairie

Lake Alexander Woods SNA, South Unit

Lake Bemidji State Park

Lake Byllesby Regional Park

Lake Carlos State Park

Lake Maria State Park

Lake Rebecca Park Reserve

Langhei Prairie SNA

Leif Mountain

Lester Lake SNA

Margherita Preserve-Audubon Prairie

Mary Schmidt Crawford Woods SNA

McCarthy Beach State Park

Mound Spring Prairie SNA, North Unit

Murphy-Hanrehan Park Reserve

Myre-Big Island State Park

Northern Tallgrass Prairie NWR, Hoffman Unit

Northern Tallgrass Prairie NWR, Rengstorf Unit

Ordway Prairie

Pembina Trail Preserve SNA, Crookston Prairie Unit

Pembina Trail Preserve SNA, Pembina Trail Unit

Phelps Lake WMA

Plover Prairie, East Unit

Potato Lake SNA

Prairie Coteau SNA

Prairie Smoke Dunes SNA

Regal Meadow

Rice Lake Savanna SNA

Richard M. & Mathilde Rice Elliott SNA

Ripley Esker SNA

Roscoe Prairie SNA

Sand Prairie Wildlife Management and Environmental Education Area

Sandpiper Prairie SNA

Savage Fen SNA

Savanna Portage State Park

Scenic State Park

Schoolcraft State Park

Sedan Brook Prairie SNA

Seminary Fen SNA

Seven Sisters Prairie

Sibley State Park

Springbrook Nature Center

Staffanson Prairie

Swedes Forest SNA

Thorson Prairie WMA

Twin Valley WMA: North Unit

Tympanuchus Prairie

Vermillion River WMA

Westwood Hills Nature Center

Whitetail Woods Regional Park

Wood-Rill SNA







Last Updated:

© All rights reserved.

About Us

Privacy Policy

Contact Us