South Dakota Native Plant Research
Typhaceae : Typha latifolia

Typhaceae : Typha latifolia


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Family Name


Common Name

Broadleaf cattail

Native American Name

Dakota: Wihuta-hu; Lakota: wihúta hú, hiŋtkáŋ


Typha latifolia is a perennial herb of wetlands, arising from a stout, creeping rhizome and forming dense colonies, with simple stems reaching up to 3 m tall. The alternate leaves are both basal and cauline, stiff, linear and flat, green, 10-25 mm wide, the uppermost leaves usually not reaching much above the flowering spikes. The squarish leaf sheath has a narrow papery edging, near the tip of the sheath where it meets the blade. The single stems are unbranched, erect and light green. The plants are monoecious, with the yellowish male flower spike above, up to 25 cm long, generally directly adjacent to the female spike, and the flowers are rapidly deciduous after anthesis. The brown female spike is about the same length and width as the male, reaching up to 3.6 cm in diameter in fruit. The fruit is an achene covered in white hairs and with a short stalk. Broadleaf cattail blooms from May into July in wetlands throughout South Dakota.

Additional Notes

Identification of Typha species can be difficult, as they hybridize freely. Planting them in a water feature can be problematic as they tend to spread rapidly and force most other species out. Broadleaf cattail rhizomes are starchy and can be pounded into a flour. The young shoots can be harvested and eaten raw or pickled. The fluff (seeds) were once used as padding for cradle boards by the Dakota peoples.

Horticulture Notes

Seed collection: Collect seeds in the summer, fall or winter when they begin to appear as white fluff.

Germination: Seeds are not dormant and can be planted in fall or spring. Starting seeds in the greenhouse provides good results. The seeds need light so plant shallowly.

Vegetative propagation: New shoots from rhizomes can be separated and transplanted.

Light: Full sun.

Soil: Tolerant of most soils.

Water: Moist to standing water.

Typhaceae : Typha latifolia