Southern Cattail

Southern Cattail, courtesy of Dr. Roger Banner, USU Extension

Photo Courtesy of Dr. Roger Banner, USU Extension

Common Name(s):

Southern Cattail

Scientific Name(s):

Typha domingensis Pers.

Scientific Name Synonyms:

Typha angustata Bory & Chaubard

Symbol:

TYDO

Description:

Life Span: Perennial
Origin: Native
Season: N/A

 

Growth Characteristics: Southern cattail is a rhizomatous, obligate wetland plant. Its stems are pithy, simple, erect and 5-13 feet tall. It reproduces by seed and thick rhizomes. It flowers in late spring and summer. 

Seedhead: The flowers are densely crowded in terminal, cylindrical, spike-like inflorescences and are unisexual. Pistillate spikes are 3-13¼ inches long, ¼-1? inches in diameter and dark brown in color. Stamenate and pistillate spikes are typically separated by a sterile portion ½-1inch long.

 

Leaves: There are 6-9 leaves per stem, equaling the spikes, up to 5/8 inch wide, flat on one side and convex on the other and pale yellow-green. Leaves are alternate, long, linear, flat and sheathing. 

Ecological Adaptations:

Southern cattail occurs in seeps, springs, canyon bottoms and wet meadows at elevations from 2,800-6,000’. It occurs in most counties in Utah. It grows in semiaquatic or riparian areas. 

 

Soils: It is adapted to coarse-fine textured, anaerobic soils and has a high tolerance for salinity.

Associated Species: Associated species in Utah include sedges, rushes and bulrushes, inland saltgrass, Fremont cottonwood and willows, among other species.

Uses and Management:

Southern cattail is an important riparian species and is effective in erosion control. It provides limited forage for large domestic and wild ungulates but is important for muskrats and other small animals. Roots and pollen were used for food by Native American peoples. It regrows well after harvest and is tolerant of fire. It spreads rapidly vegetatively.