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Broadleaf Cattail, Bulrush, Cossack Asparagus, Flags, Reed Mace

Typha latifolia

Family: Typhaceae
Genus: Typha (TY-fuh) (Info)
Species: latifolia (lat-ee-FOH-lee-uh) (Info)


Ponds and Aquatics

Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

Flowers are good for cutting

Flowers are good for drying and preserving

Water Requirements:

Very high moisture needs; suitable for bogs and water gardens

Where to Grow:

Grow outdoors year-round


6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)


9-12 in. (22-30 cm)


USDA Zone 3a: to -39.9 C (-40 F)

USDA Zone 3b: to -37.2 C (-35 F)

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)

USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:

Sun to Partial Shade


Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:


Bloom Time:

Mid Summer



Other details:

May be a noxious weed or invasive

Soil pH requirements:

4.5 or below (very acidic)

4.6 to 5.0 (highly acidic)

5.1 to 5.5 (strongly acidic)

5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

7.9 to 8.5 (alkaline)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

By dividing the rootball

By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)

Seed Collecting:

Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Flagstaff, Arizona

Clearlake, California

Eureka, California

Monrovia, California

Walsenburg, Colorado

Bartow, Florida

Fountain, Florida

Micanopy, Florida

Odessa, Florida

Hinesville, Georgia

Chicago, Illinois

Macomb, Illinois

Salem, Illinois

Evansville, Indiana

Benton, Kentucky

Ewing, Kentucky

Murray, Kentucky

Lake Charles, Louisiana

New Orleans, Louisiana

Boothbay Harbor, Maine

Valley Lee, Maryland

Acton, Massachusetts

Halifax, Massachusetts

Bay City, Michigan

Constantine, Michigan

Mason, Michigan

Isle, Minnesota

Stanchfield, Minnesota

Tower, Minnesota

Cole Camp, Missouri

Frenchtown, New Jersey

Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey

Blossvale, New York

Shandaken, New York

Raleigh, North Carolina

Wilsons Mills, North Carolina

Youngsville, North Carolina

Cleveland, Ohio

Hulbert, Oklahoma

Gold Hill, Oregon

Bedias, Texas

Mc Kinney, Texas

Spicewood, Texas

Venus, Texas

Suffolk, Virginia

Spokane, Washington

West Hamlin, West Virginia

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Jun 15, 2016, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

In the garden, this is an aggressive spreader, and difficult to contain in the wet soils it needs.

In the wild, this is beautiful and valuable to wildlife. Unfortunately, it is rapidly being displaced in the wild here by the invasive reed Phragmites australis.


On Sep 4, 2011, maccionoadha from Halifax, MA (Zone 6a) wrote:

The Algonquin(Natick Dialect) name is Misheaskeht.

You can make flour from the cattail pollen and roots. You can harvest the roots all year round and the pollen about mid Summer. The male "flower", which contains the pollen, is the skinny part found at the top of the plant; it is located above the female "flower" (which is green in Spring and brown in the Summer, when it has been pollinated).

To collect the pollen gently bend the stalk over a bucket or inside a bag and shaking it vigorously. If the Cattail patch is of a decent size, you should be able to collect up to a pound of pollen. The pollen can be used as a substitute for some of the regular flour in recipes; approximately 30 to 50%.

The roots can be made into flour as well. After collect... read more


On Oct 14, 2010, the_naturalist from Monrovia, CA wrote:

I grew it in a metal dishpan about 18" in diameter, as the main feature of my small pond made from a kids' wading pool. The pan contained the roots perfectly, and the plants were lovely. The only complaint was that the leaves bent and broke easily. I guess the secret is just to keep it small.


On Oct 4, 2010, gardeninglady from Boothbay Harbor, ME wrote:

If you like invasive plants, this is one for you. I live near a boggy area of cattails, perhaps 1/4 mile away; and I found three, count them, three cattails growing amidst my daylilies. Lookalikes while young, it took me a month or two before I realized that there were some coarser-leaved plants amongst the daylilies. It was quite difficult to dig them up I might add. In addition, the pond that we liked 10 years ago is now the boggy area of which I write. Beware!


On Oct 4, 2010, hawkarica from Odessa, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

These plants became so thick in our lake that we could not see the water. We paid thousands for a crew of men to spray them and pull them up by the roots. I think they are the worst plant ever.


On Oct 4, 2010, laughingwillow from Englewood, FL wrote:

If you are looking for an invasive, impossible-to-eliminate tall weed that will block your view of and access to water (pond or lake), then this is the plant for you!!


On Oct 4, 2010, NordicFletch from Stanchfield, MN wrote:

I happen to like cattails, because I use them as a food source. Not only are the flower spikes edible (while they are green; it's where the name "cossack asparagus" comes from), the pollen is an excellent flour additive/substitute. Also, the white stem core is useful as a quick snack -- and the roots are an excellent source of starch, even with the work involved in getting the starch out of them.

In North America, the Broadleaf cattail is being pushed out by the invasive Eurasian cattail (Typha angustifolia), which grows faster and far more profusely. It also hybridizes readily with T. latifolia, creating T. xglauca. Those who are now having problems with cattails taking over their ponds/lakes/etc most likely are dealing with the Eurasian and hybrid cattail.


On Oct 4, 2010, sharpen from (Zone 8b) wrote:

Here in the UK they're more commonly known as Bulrushes. They are widespread in natural ponds,dykes and lakes. I bought a root pack from B&Q five years ago, I think there were 3 plants originally, now they have separated into 30+. I split them out into containers at the start of the year and give them plenty of water just to make sure they don't dry out. The flower stems can be dried-out and make nice features in the house. Whilst they originally came in some form of 'special' growing clay, I think they thrive in any type of soil.


On Oct 4, 2010, OkeeDon from Okeechobee, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

People either love or hate this plant. Color me among those who hate it. Cattails have taken over 50% of two 1/3 acre ponds on my property and spring back no matter what I do to eradicate them. The best way to get rid of them is cut them off underwater, but that is difficult to do from a skiff, and the cattails on my property usually hide a small gator or two. If I could scrunch my nose and blink them away, I'd give up something substantial. I'd like to enjoy my ponds again!


On Oct 4, 2010, tootsieroll from West Hamlin, WV wrote:

These are beautiful plants. They grow in several of areas in West Virginia. There is many near my home in West Hamlin.


On May 22, 2007, WUVIE from Hulbert, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

For years I have been admiring the large, yet sparse
community of Catttail in our creek and makeshift natural
pond setting by the side of the house.

Yesterday it occurred to me that it would perform so much
better closer to the house where it could be watered, as
the creek tends to dry up. It would be my opinion that our
catttail has barely survived each season.

Now living in our faux pond, it seems much happier. I can't
wait for the tails to come.


On Jan 31, 2006, raisedbedbob from Walkerton, VA (Zone 7a) wrote:

This is a wonderful native plant. Most of it edible at some time. Young shoots can be cooked like asparagus, the pollen can be used as flour, and starch can be removed from the roots and used as flour.


On Sep 19, 2005, Scorpioangel from Gold Hill, OR (Zone 7a) wrote:

a native to So. Oregon. You can find them growing almost everywhere ... ditches, ponds, etc.


On Jun 16, 2004, Wingnut from Spicewood, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

I said neutral because of the invasiveness of these plants. If it weren't for that, they'd be perfect in any water garden! I have them growing in my creek (they're native to Texas). They are beautiful and graceful blowing in the breezes. Their seed heads are a nice touch to the fall and winter landscape, opening up and sending their puffy clumps of seeds blowing around.


On May 6, 2004, crimsontsavo from Crossville, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:

These plants are excellent in a pond.They spread very fast and animals love them. They are perfect for a naturalized pond. If you want one in a container pond (barrel) plant it in a pot. Parts of the Cat Tail are edible. Check to make sure of the species before you sample it,lol. The leaves also make great material for basket weaving and floor mats.


On Aug 18, 2001, mystic from Ewing, KY (Zone 6a) wrote:

Cattails have stiff, unbranched stems and long, erect, swordlike leaves with parallel veins. They stand 3-9' tall and are connected underground by rhizomes. The stems are topped by dense cylindrical spikes of tiny brown flowers that look like sausages or cat's tails. Common cattail gets up to 9' tall and the upper, male or pollen bearing flower spike is joined to the lower, female part. Cattails are best suited for use in large pools. They will spread if not contained by pond liners or deep water.The rhizomes may puncture thin pond liners. Cattails provide excellent wildlife habitat.