Typha latifolia

Common Names: Common cattail, broadleaf cattail, bulrush, common bulrush, great reedmace, cooper's reed, cumbungi
Category: Plants
Sub-category: Grasses

Features narrow, upright, sword-like, linear, mostly basal, green leaves (to 7 feet long) and a stiff, unbranched central flower stalk that typically rises equal to or slightly less than the height of the leaves (usually around 6 feet tall but infrequently to as much as 10 feet). Plants are monoecious, with each flower stalk being topped by two sets of minute flowers densely packed into a cylindrical inflorescence. Yellowish male (staminate) flowers are located at the top of the inflorescence and greenish female (pistillate) flowers are located underneath. In this species, the staminate and pistillate flowers are not separated by a gap. After bloom, the male flowers rapidly disperse, leaving a naked stalk tip. The pollinated female flowers turn brown as the seeds mature, forming the familiar cylindrical, sausage-like, cattail fruiting spike (to 9 inches long in this species).

Typha latifolia is an 'obligate wetland' species, meaning that it is always found in or near water. The species generally grows in flooded areas where the water depth does not generally exceed 2.6 feet. Flowers bloom in summer.

Primary Flower Color: Brown
Secondary Flower Color: Green
Edible Notes: The rhizomes of Typha latifolia were eaten by many first peoples of North America, as well as the leaf bases and young flower spikes. The rhizomes can be consumed after cooking and removing the skin, while the peeled stems and leaf bases can be eaten raw or cooked. While Typha latifolia grows all over, including in rural areas, it is not advisable to eat specimens deriving from polluted water as it is used as a bioremediator, it absorbs pollutants. Do not eat them if they taste very bitter or spicy.
Warnings: Not known to be dangerous.