Long upright leaves, marshy areas. No gap between the two parts of the flower stalk.
Similar species: Narrow-leaved Cattail (Typha angustifolia) - Leaves much narrower. Blue Flag Iris (Iris versicolor) - Much smaller, has "real" flowers that are blue. Yellow Iris (Iris pseudacorus) - Leaves are very similar, but has large showy yellow flowers.
Common Cattail is aptly named - it is very common, and almost everyone can recognize the tall straight leaves in marshes.
The flower of Common Cattail. The pollen is in the uppert part, and falls down onto the stamens on the lower part.
Note that there is no gap between the upper pollen-bearing part and the lower part. This is in contrast to Narrow-leaved Cattail (Typha angustifolia).
Another flowering Common Cattail.
The yellow pollen is edible, and can be mixed with flour.
Common Cattail seed head.
In the winter, the seed head gradually degrades and sheds its tiny fluffy seeds in the wind.
Sometimes it ends up looking like this.
Base of Common Cattail plants in the water.
Common Cattail are edible.
Some Common Cattails in a boggy marshy area.
A stand of Common Cattail plants in mid to late winter.