Cattail

Emergent Plants

Typha latifolia:

Cattail

Typha latifolia L.: Cattail, tule. Typhaceae (cattail family). 

Native perennial. Grows in shallow water or very moist soil from thick rhizomes to form dense stands over large areas in ditches, wetlands, and water margins. Stem and leaves upright, to over 8 ft (2.5 m) tall. The stiff, cylindrical, jointless stem emerges out of the clasping sheaths that form the bases of the leaves. The long, narrow, strap-like, spongy leaves are bright green and smooth, with tapering tips; the front surface is almost flat and the back is flat or slightly curved. The stem terminates in a spike carrying two types of flowers: the velvety brown cylinder, to 1 ft (30 cm) long, is made up of numerous, densely packed female flower tufts; the upper portion consists of more shaggy male flowers. These latter often disintegrate and fall off before the female flowers do. Although the starchy rhizomes are edible and form a wildlife food, the leaves are said to be poisonous to livestock. Dense stands out-compete other plant species in aquatic areas, reducing desirable habitat; colonies can fill in open water and degrade wetlands.