Ontario Wildflowers website

Common Cattail
Typha latifolia

Common Cattail (Typha latifolia) Other common names: Broad-leaved Cattail

French names: Quenouille feuilles larges

Family: Cattail Family (Typhaceae)

Distinctive features: 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.


Flowers: Summer;  Green/Brown;  Indistinguishable parts (petals)

Leaves: Simple, Entire

Habitat: Wet Areas

Uses: The leaves make great thatching in a survival situation.

Edible: Most parts of Common Cattail are edible: roots, young shoots, pollen.

Books: Newcomb's Wildflower Guide: 410   

Native/Non-native: Native

Origin and Meaning of Names:
 Scientific Name: latifolia: wide or broad leaf


Photographs: 151 photographs available, of which 11 are featured on this page. SCROLL DOWN FOR PHOTOGRAPHS.

Range Map is at the bottom of the page

Common Cattail (Typha latifolia)

Common Cattail is aptly named - it is very common, and almost everyone can recognize the tall straight leaves in marshes.

Common Cattail (Typha latifolia)

Common Cattail (Typha latifolia)

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).

Common Cattail (Typha latifolia)

Another flowering Common Cattail.

The yellow pollen is edible, and can be mixed with flour.

Common Cattail (Typha latifolia)

Common Cattail seed head.

Common Cattail (Typha latifolia)

In the winter, the seed head gradually degrades and sheds its tiny fluffy seeds in the wind.

Common Cattail (Typha latifolia)

Sometimes it ends up looking like this.

Common Cattail (Typha latifolia)

Base of Common Cattail plants in the water.

Common Cattail (Typha latifolia)

Common Cattail are edible.

Common Cattail (Typha latifolia)

Some Common Cattails in a boggy marshy area.

Common Cattail (Typha latifolia)

A stand of Common Cattail plants in mid to late winter.


Range map for Common Cattail (Typha latifolia)

PLEASE NOTE: A coloured Province or State means this species occurs somewhere in that Province/State.
The entire Province/State is coloured, regardless of where in that Province/State it occurs.

(Range map provided courtesy of the USDA website and is displayed here in accordance with their Policies)