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.