Plant DetailShow Menu

Common Cattail Typha latifolia

Phonetic Spelling
TY-fuh lat-ih-FOH-lee-ah
Description

The Common Cattail is a grass-like native plant to North Carolina. In nature, it can be found in the fresh waters of ponds, lakes, and marshes, including tidal freshwater marshes and slightly brackish marshes. Cattails tolerate perennial flooding, reduced soil conditions and moderate salinity. With influxes of nutrients or freshwater, cattails are aggressive invaders in both brackish salt marshes and freshwater wetlands.

Grow in containers to control the spread in smaller ponds or water gardens and cover with up to 30 inches of water. They prefer full sun to partial shade. It does have some drought tolerance as long as the soil doesn't dry out.

Male flowers appear above the female flowers on each stalk.  The female has long hairs that catch pollen.  After pollination, the male portion of the stalk disintegrates and you are left with the cattail portion.   

Insects, Diseases and Other Plant Problems:  Can become invasive.

 

See this plant in the following landscape:
Juniper Level Botanic Gardens: Part Sun-Part Shade Gardens
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • Variegata
Variegata
Tags:
#showy flowers#fall color#full sun tolerant#water garden#rain garden#heat tolerant#drought tolerant#early fall#edible plant#perennial#wildlife plant#yellow-green#partial sun#yellow flowers#piedmont#medicinal#yellow leaves#spring flowers#fall interest#wetlands#flower arrangements#standing water#water plant#showy fruits#pond margins#moist soil#food source#fast growing#highly beneficial coastal plants#aggressive#herbaceous#NC native#spreading#organic soils#summer flowers#small and large mammals#ponds#herbaceous perennial#pond#pond garden#native garden#yellow blades#ditches#mountains#rich soil#colonies#fall fruits#lakes#summer interest#spring interest#marshes#naturalized area#native water plant#late spring flowers#mid-summer flowers#fruits summer#food source summer#frequent standing water#gray-green leaves#forb#early summer flowers#pond edge#Coastal OBL#food source herbage#Piedmont Mountains OBL#fall color yellow#small group plantings#sandy soils tolerant#wet soils tolerant#loamy soils tolerant#fruits#native#bird friendly#food source hard mast fruit#loam#waterfowl#food source mid-summer#wetland margins#fall color bronze#fruits early fall#partial shade tolerant#sandy soil#loamy soil#food source roots#audubon#container plants#coastal plant
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • Variegata
Variegata
Tags:
#showy flowers#fall color#full sun tolerant#water garden#rain garden#heat tolerant#drought tolerant#early fall#edible plant#perennial#wildlife plant#yellow-green#partial sun#yellow flowers#piedmont#medicinal#yellow leaves#spring flowers#fall interest#wetlands#flower arrangements#standing water#water plant#showy fruits#pond margins#moist soil#food source#fast growing#highly beneficial coastal plants#aggressive#herbaceous#NC native#spreading#organic soils#summer flowers#small and large mammals#ponds#herbaceous perennial#pond#pond garden#native garden#yellow blades#ditches#mountains#rich soil#colonies#fall fruits#lakes#summer interest#spring interest#marshes#naturalized area#native water plant#late spring flowers#mid-summer flowers#fruits summer#food source summer#frequent standing water#gray-green leaves#forb#early summer flowers#pond edge#Coastal OBL#food source herbage#Piedmont Mountains OBL#fall color yellow#small group plantings#sandy soils tolerant#wet soils tolerant#loamy soils tolerant#fruits#native#bird friendly#food source hard mast fruit#loam#waterfowl#food source mid-summer#wetland margins#fall color bronze#fruits early fall#partial shade tolerant#sandy soil#loamy soil#food source roots#audubon#container plants#coastal plant
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Typha
    Species:
    latifolia
    Family:
    Typhaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Many uses including food, medicine, thatching, and glue/cement.
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Root Cutting
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    N. & S. America, Europe, Eurasia and Africa
    Distribution:
    Marshes and wetlands
    Fire Risk Rating:
    low flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    Birds use the cattail as nesting material. Rhizomes are a food source for small mammals.
    Play Value:
    Textural
    Wildlife Cover/Habitat
    Wildlife Food Source
    Wildlife Nesting
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    Heat tolerant. Somewhat resistant to drought.
    Edibility:
    Parts of the plant are edible if picked at the appropriate time. Young shoots are picked at 4 to 16 inches long and can be eaten raw, cooked or pickled. The pollen can be used as flour. The rhizomes can be eaten raw, baked, roasted, or broiled.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 5 ft. 0 in. - 10 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 4 ft. 0 in. - 6 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Herbaceous Perennial
    Native Plant
    Perennial
    Water Plant
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Coarse
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil Drainage:
    Frequent Standing Water
    Moist
    Occasionally Wet
    Available Space To Plant:
    Less than 12 inches
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    3a, 3b, 4a, 4b, 5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8b, 8a, 9a, 9b, 10b, 10a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Follicle
    Fruit Description:
    Fruits are brown in color. In North Carolina, fruits are available from June to November.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Gold/Yellow
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Good Cut
    Good Dried
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Summer
    Flower Description:
    Cylindrical flower in mid to late summer; good fresh or dried in arrangements. In North Carolina, flowers are available from May to July. Female flowers appear below the male flowers on the stalk.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Gray/Silver
    Green
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Shape:
    Linear
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Sword-like flat, gray-green, leaves with parallel veins arise from the plant base. Leaves turn bright yellow in fall. Can grow 5-8 feet tall and 3/4 to 1.5 inches wide.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Form:
    Straight
    Stem Description:
    Tall, erect, and unbranched with underground stems (rhizomes).
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Coastal
    Container
    Naturalized Area
    Pond
    Landscape Theme:
    Edible Garden
    Native Garden
    Rain Garden
    Water Garden
    Design Feature:
    Mass Planting
    Small groups
    Attracts:
    Small Mammals
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Heat
    Poor Soil
    Salt
    Wet Soil
    Problems:
    Weedy