Typha latifolia L.

broad-leaved cat-tail

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New England Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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North America Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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Facts About

Broad-leaved cattail is native to New England, where it is found in wet soils and shallow water of lakes, rivers, marshes, fens and ditches. It can aggressively colonize areas of human disturbance. It was widely used by Native Americans for medicine, food and crafts. For example, the roots were used internally to cure kidney stones, many used the down to prevent chafing in infants and as a pillow and mattress stuffing, and the roots and young shoots were often eaten, as was the pollen.

Habitat

Anthropogenic (man-made or disturbed habitats), fens (calcium-rich wetlands), lacustrine (in lakes or ponds), marshes, riverine (in rivers or streams), shores of rivers or lakes, wetland margins (edges of wetlands)

Characteristics

Habitat
  • aquatic
  • wetlands
New England state
  • Connecticut
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
Stem shape in cross-section
the stem is round or oval in cross-section
Leaf blade width
5–29 mm
Leaf blade cross-section
the leaf blade is flat or rolled in at the edges
Inflorescence position
the inflorescence is at the tip of the plant
Inflorescence branching
the inflorescence is on one or more stems with no branches
Fruit type (general)
the fruit is like a seed, and surrounded by hairs
Fruit length
10–15 mm
Leaf position on plant
some leaf attachment points are above the midpoint of the stem
Perianth composition
  • there are long, thin hairs attached at the base of the achene
  • there are three bristles and three scales on narrow stalks, attached at the base of the achene
Fruit cross-section
the fruit is triangular to terete (circular) in cross-section
Show All Characteristics
  • Flowers
    Anther color (dry)
    the anthers range in color from white to tan or yellow to yellow-brown
    Anther length
    1–3 mm
    Floral bristle color
    the bristles are white
    Floral scale hairs
    NA
    Floral scale length
    0–4 mm
    Floral scale nerves
    NA
    Floral scale shape
    the floral scales are linear (very narrow, with more or less parallel sides)
    Floral scale translucent
    the floral scales are translucent
    Inflorescence bract position (Sparganium)
    NA
    Inflorescence bracts
    there are at least two bracts, and they are either flat or folded or rolled in at the edges
    Inflorescence branching
    the inflorescence is on one or more stems with no branches
    Inflorescence crowding
    the inflorescence is crowded together in one tight cluster
    Inflorescence position
    the inflorescence is at the tip of the plant
    Inflorescence shape
    the aggregations within the inflorescence are roughly circular (not flattened) in cross-section
    Inflorescence type
    there are two cylindrical spikes, with one higher than the other
    Perianth composition
    • there are long, thin hairs attached at the base of the achene
    • there are three bristles and three scales on narrow stalks, attached at the base of the achene
    Stamen number
    3
    Stigma number
    1
    Style division
    the style is undivided, or divided only near the tip
  • Fruits or seeds
    Achene beak length
    0 mm
    Achene surface texture
    NA
    Achene tubercle relative width
    NA
    Achene tubercle width
    0 mm
    Capsule relative length
    NA
    Fruit cross-section
    the fruit is triangular to terete (circular) in cross-section
    Fruit length
    10–15 mm
    Fruit type (general)
    the fruit is like a seed, and surrounded by hairs
    Fruit type (specific)
    the fruit is a wind-dispersed follicle (has one ovary that splits along one side to release the seeds)
    Locules in capsule
    NA
    Seed length
    0 mm
    Seed tail relative length
    0 mm
    Seed tails
    NA
    Tubercle height
    0 mm
  • Growth form
    Lifespan
    the plant lives more than two years
    Rhizome thickness
    5–40 mm
    Underground organs
    the plant has a rhizome (a horizontal underground stem with roots growing from it)
  • Leaves
    Auricle texture
    the auricles are firm (though flexible) and opaque
    Leaf blade cross-section
    the leaf blade is flat or rolled in at the edges
    Leaf blade width
    5–29 mm
    Leaf form
    all the leaves hold their form out of water
    Leaf position on plant
    some leaf attachment points are above the midpoint of the stem
    Leaf septa
    the leaf blades do not have transverse septa
    Leaf sheath hairs
    the leaf sheathes are without hairs
    Pedicel length (Typha)
    1.5–3.5 mm
    Stem leaf blades
    there are fully-developed leaves with leaf blades on the main stem
    Width of seed-producing inflorescence
    20–30 mm
  • Place
    Habitat
    • aquatic
    • wetlands
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Maine
    • Massachusetts
    • New Hampshire
    • Rhode Island
    • Vermont
    Specific habitat
    • edges of wetlands
    • fens (calcium-rich wetlands)
    • in lakes or ponds
    • in rivers or streams
    • man-made or disturbed habitats
    • marshes
    • shores of rivers or lakes
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Plant height
    150–300 cm
    Stem shape in cross-section
    the stem is round or oval in cross-section
    Stem texture near tip
    the stem feels smooth near the tip
    Stem thickness at midpoint
    3–7 mm

Wetland Status

Occurs only in wetlands. (Wetland indicator code: OBL)

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

Connecticut
present
Maine
present
Massachusetts
present
New Hampshire
present
Rhode Island
present
Vermont
present

Conservation Status

Exact status definitions can vary from state to state. For details, please check with your state.

Massachusetts
unranked (S-rank: SNR)

Native to North America?

Yes

Sometimes Confused With

Typha angustifolia:
fruiting spikes 13-22 mm thick and widest leaves 4-12 mm wide when fresh (vs. T. latifolia, with the fruiting spikes mostly 24-36 mm thick and widest leaves mostly 24-36 mm wide when fresh).

Family

Typhaceae

Genus

Typha

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