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Cattails – Narrowleaf and Hybrid

Narrowleaf Cattail, Typha augustifolia, photo by

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Common Name: Cattails - narrowleaf and hybrid
Scientific Name: Typha angustifolia and T. x glauca
Origin: Europe


Cattails are tall, perennial, obligate wetland plants. They produce dense, rhizome mats that may extend 30” into the soil. In western New York, there are native broadleaf cattail, T. latifolia, and exotic narrowleaf cattail, T. angustifolia. The narrowleaf cattail leaves are ¾” to ½” wide, while the broadleaf cattails have leaves as wide as 1½”. Additionally, the flowering head of broadleaf cattails is larger and stouter, while the narrowleaf cattail’s flowering head is smaller, more slender and has a gap between and male and female parts of the flower. The two species of cattail hybridize, producing offspring that are often taller and more invasive than either parent.


Cattails require saturated or submerged soils to germinate, but they will tolerate fluctuations in water level. They are found in natural wetland habitats, and also in human-dominated areas such as roadsides, drainage ditches and detention ponds. Cattails can tolerate a variety of temperature ranges and are found throughout North America. The narrowleaf and hybrid cattails have a higher tolerance for salinity and alkalinity than native cattails.


The dense rhizome mats and thick layer of leaf litter that cattails produce, exclude other plants from growing within cattail stands, making them a threat to biodiversity.


Herbicide application can be effective at controlling cattail infestations, especially if they can be treated when dry in the summer months.
Water level manipulation has been used in combination with other methods to achieve control. Mowing, followed by maintained flooding of the cut stems, can be effective. Although, cutting too early in the season, before the cattails have started flowering, may encourage re-sprouting. Decreasing the water level to allow the roots to dry, followed by burning and/or herbicide treatment and then re-flooding, can prevent re-rooting and destroy built up leaf litter.

Regional Distribution


WNY PRISM Priority

Tier 4 – Local Control

Invasive Species Priorities – Tier Chart