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Common Cattail

Typha latifolia

Family: Typhaceae

  • found along the shore of marshes, ponds, or lakes; sometimes found in ditches
  • tend to grow in a dense stand (many together)
Common Cattail Plant
  • adult specimens range from 1-3 meters or 3-9 feet tall
  • stiff, straight stem
  • brown flower head pops open in early fall, letting its fluffy seeds emerge; the seeds are carried away by wind or water

Common Cattail Flower Leaves:
  • erect, sharp, and stiff
  • look like a thick blade of grass
  • leaves are simple with a smooth, continuous edge

  • the flower has two parts: female and male
  • brown sausage-shaped formation near top of stem made up of tiny, densely-packed pistillate (female) flowers
  • thin yellow spike extending above female part is the staminate (male) flowers
  • both male and female flowers visible May-July

Common Cattail Fluff
The dried leaves are an excellent source of weaving material that can be used to make floats and rafts. The cottony seeds make good pillow stuffing and insulation. The fluff makes excellent tinder and can be easily spotted all year round. Dried cattails are effective insect repellents when burned.

    Cattail leaves are also usable for cordage for making a bow drill. The pithy stalks can be used to make a hand drill, useful for igniting a pile of tinder.

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