Bogs and Acidic Peatlands of Southern New England by Marsha C. Salett
Taxonomy
Typha latifolia L.
TYPHACEAE (Cat-tail Family)
EtymologyTypha is the Greek name for cat-tail; latifolia means broad-leaved, from the Latin: latis = broad or wide + folium = leaf.
Synonyms (Common Name)Cat-o-nine-tails, Broad-leaved Cat-tail
DescriptionCommon cat-tail is an perennial, aquatic, emergent herb that grows to 10' tall, often forming dense colonies from creeping rhizomes. With sword-like leaves and brown, sausage-like flower spikes, cat-tails are an abundant and familiar sight in freshwater wetlands.
Wetland indicator statusOBL
Plant Heightto 10 feet
LeavesSimple, entire, linear, stiff, erect. Basal leaves: sword-like, to 6' long and 1" wide. Stem leaves: alternate, to 2 1/2' long.
Flower/InflorescenceInconspicuous, densely packed on separate male and female cylindrical spikes; the male spike occurs directly above the female spike on the same stalk -- they are connected (or nearly so). Male (staminate) spike: upper, to 5" long, yellowish, disintegrates after blooming. Female (pistillate): lower, up to 8" long and 1" in diameter, brown.
Flowering PeriodMay-July
FruitAchene, tiny (to 3/8") with several silky hairs attached at the base; form tightly packed brown, sausage-like seedhead that bursts into light-brown fluff when ripe.
HabitatMarshes.
RangeNewfoundland to Alaska; south to Florida and Mexico.
(c) 1998-2006 Marsha C. Salett