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Plant Families / Typha - Cattails


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Typha - Cattails

Typha (Cattails) are aquatic or semi-aquatic, rhizomatous perennials with long, narrow, strap-shaped leaves and interesting dark brown, cylindrical flower spikes in summer. Growing along lake margins and in marshes, often in dense colonies, they tolerate water over their crown and provide protective cover and nesting areas for animals and birds. Native to many parts of the world, they overwinter well and withstand freezing temperatures. Cattails have been cultivated as ornamental pond plants and used in dried flower arrangements. Thanks to their extensive root system, they are good for stabilizing banks of rivers and lakes.

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Typha angustifolia (Narrow-Leaved Cattail)

Typha angustifolia (Narrow-Leaved Cattail) is a vigorous, marginal aquatic perennial forming a dense clump of very narrow, flattened leaves, 2-5 ft. long (60-150 cm). In late spring and summer, the plant bears cylindrical inflorescences, up to 9 in. long (22 cm), composed of tiny male, staminate flowers in the upper portion and female, pistillate flowers below. Male and female flowers are separated by a 2-6 in. gap (5-15 cm).

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Typha latifolia 'Variegata' (Variegated Broadleaf Cattail)

Typha latifolia 'Variegata' (Variegated Broadleaf Cattail) is a vigorous, marginal aquatic perennial forming a dense clump of stout, cylindrical, and unbranched stems up to 7 ft. tall (210 cm). The showy foliage of narrow, upright, linear, white and green-striped leaves turns golden brown in the fall. In spring to early summer, the plant bears green cylindrical catkins that turn rich brown in summer. The spikes usually persist to early winter before disintegrating.

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Typha latifolia (Broadleaf Cattail)

Typha latifolia (Broadleaf Cattail) is a vigorous, marginal aquatic perennial forming a dense clump of stout, cylindrical, and unbranched stems up to 7 ft. long (210 cm). The narrow, upright, linear, light green leaves turn golden brown in the fall. In spring to early summer, the plant bears cylindrical inflorescences composed of tiny male, staminate flowers in the upper portion and female, pistillate flowers below. Over 1000 flowers may be produced on one plant.

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Typha laxmannii (Graceful Cattail)

Typha laxmannii (Graceful Cattail) is a vigorous, marginal aquatic perennial forming a dense clump of narrow, upright, gray-green leaves that grow up to 5 ft. tall (150 cm) in a sword-like shape. The linear foliage turns golden brown in the fall. In summer, the plant bears cylindrical inflorescences composed of tiny male, staminate flowers in the upper portion and female, pistillate flowers below. In this species, the staminate and pistillate flowers are separated by a gap of up to 2 in. (5 cm) of stalk.

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Typha minima (Dwarf Cattail)

The smallest of the cattails, Typha minima (Dwarf Cattail) is a slender, aquatic perennial with narrow, upright, linear, grass-like, green leaves 8-30 in. long (20-75 cm), that turn golden brown in the fall. In mid summer to late fall, the plant bears small cylindrical inflorescences, up to 2 in. long (5 cm), composed of tiny male, staminate flowers in the upper portion and female, pistillate flowers below. The male flowers are golden yellow at the time they shed their pollen, then they disintegrate, leaving a naked stalk tip. The densely packed female spike turns from green to rich brown as the seeds mature.

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