Typha latifolia - L.
Common Name Reedmace, Broadleaf cattail, Bullrush, Nailrod
Family Typhaceae
USDA hardiness 3-10
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Shallow water up to 15cm deep in ponds, lakes, ditches, slow-flowing streams etc, succeeding in acid or alkaline conditions[9, 17].
Range Throughout the world from the Arctic to latitude 30° S, incl Britain but absent from Africa, S. Asia
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating  
Fully Hardy Wet Soil Water Plants Full sun

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Bloom Color: Brown. Main Bloom Time: Late summer, Mid summer. Typha latifolia (Common Cattail, or Broadleaf Cattail) is a common perennial marsh, or wetland plant in temperate, tropical, and subtropical climates throughout the Northern Hemisphere. Plants are typically 1.5-3 meters (5 to 10 feet) high, with 2-4 cm (.75-1.25 inch) wide leaves, and stems the height of the plant bearing long flower spikes with an upper male staminate section and a lower female pistillate section. Mature flower stalks resemble the tail of a cat. Typha latifolia is an important wild food source; however, caution should be used in selecting plants for harvest from pollution-free areas, as this genus is known to absorb large quantities of toxins where they exist in surrounding water, and may have even been planted in an effort at bioremediation of a toxic spill, such as at the site of a decomposing gas or oil tank. Form: Spreading or horizontal, Upright or erect, Variable spread.

Typha latifolia Reedmace, Broadleaf cattail, Bullrush, Nailrod

Typha latifolia Reedmace, Broadleaf cattail, Bullrush, Nailrod
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of flower
Typha latifolia is a PERENNIAL growing to 2.5 m (8ft) by 3 m (9ft) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 3. It is in flower from Jun to August. The flowers are monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant) and are pollinated by Wind.It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers wet soil and can grow in water.


 Pond; Bog Garden;
Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Flowers;  Leaves;  Oil;  Pollen;  Root;  Seed;  Stem.
Edible Uses: Oil.

Roots - raw or cooked[2, 12]. They can be boiled and eaten like potatoes or macerated and then boiled to yield a sweet syrup. The roots can also be dried and ground into a powder, this powder is rich in protein and can be mixed with wheat flour and then used for making bread, biscuits, muffins etc[55, 62, 95, 183]. One hectare of this plant can produce 8 tonnes of flour from the rootstock[85]. The plant is best harvested from late autumn to early spring since it is richest in starch at this time[9]. The root contains about 80% carbohydrate (30 - 46% starch) and 6 - 8% protein[85]. Young shoots in spring - raw or cooked[12, 55, 62, 94, 102, 183]. An asparagus substitute. They taste like cucumber[212]. The shoots can still be used when they are up to 50cm long[85]. Base of mature stem - raw or cooked[2, 9, 55]. It is best to remove the outer part of the stem[62, 183]. It is called 'Cossack asparagus'[183]. Immature flowering spike - raw, cooked or made into a soup[62, 85, 94]. It tastes like sweet corn[183]. Seed - raw or cooked[2, 257]. The seed is rather small and fiddly to utilize, but has a pleasant nutty taste when roasted[12]. The seed can be ground into a flour and used in making cakes etc[257]. An edible oil is obtained from the seed[55, 85]. Due to the small size of the seed this is probably not a very worthwhile crop[K]. Pollen - raw or cooked. The pollen can be used as a protein rich additive to flour when making bread, porridge etc[12, 55, 62, 94, 102]. It can also be eaten with the young flowers[85], which makes it considerably easier to utilize. The pollen can be harvested by placing the flowering stem over a wide but shallow container and then gently tapping the stem and brushing the pollen off with a fine brush[9]. This will help to pollinate the plant and thereby ensure that both pollen and seeds can be harvested[K].
Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Anticoagulant;  Astringent;  Diuretic;  Emmenagogue;  Galactogogue;  Haemostatic;  Miscellany;  Refrigerant;  
Sedative;  Tonic;  Vulnerary.

The leaves are diuretic[218]. The leaves have been mixed with oil and used as a poultice on sores[257]. The pollen is astringent, diuretic, emmenagogue, haemostatic, refrigerant, sedative, suppurative and vulnerary[218]. The dried pollen is said to be anticoagulant, but when roasted with charcoal it becomes haemostatic[238]. It is used internally in the treatment of kidney stones, haemorrhage, painful menstruation, abnormal uterine bleeding, post-partum pains, abscesses and cancer of the lymphatic system[222, 238]. It should not be prescribed for pregnant women[238]. Externally, it is used in the treatment of tapeworms, diarrhoea and injuries[238]. A decoction of the stems has been used in the treatment of whooping cough[257]. The roots are diuretic, galactogogue, refrigerant and tonic[218]. The roots are pounded into a jelly-like consistency and applied as a poultice to wounds, cuts, boils, sores, carbuncles, inflammations, burns and scalds[222, 257]. The flowers are used in the treatment of a wide range of ailments including abdominal pain, amenorrhoea, cystitis, dysuria, metrorrhagia and vaginitis[218]. The young flower heads are eaten as a treatment for diarrhoea[222]. The seed down has been used as a dressing on burns and scalds[257].


Other Uses
Baby care;  Biomass;  Fibre;  Insulation;  Lighting;  Miscellany;  Oil;  Paper;  Soil stabilization;  Stuffing;  Thatching;  Tinder;  Weaving.

The stems and leaves have many uses. Gathered in the autumn they make a good thatch, can be used in making paper, can be woven into mats, chairs, hats etc[94, 99, 257]. They are a good source of biomass, making an excellent addition to the compost heap or used as a source of fuel etc. The pulp of the plant can be converted into rayon[222]. The stems can be used to make rush lights. The outer stem is removed except for a small strip about 10mm wide which acts as a spine to keep the stem erect. The stem is then soaked in oil and can be lit and used like a candle[55]. The female flowers make an excellent tinder and can be lit from the spark of a flint[212]. A fibre is obtained from the blossom stem and flowers[55, 57, 99]. A fibre obtained from the leaves can be used for making paper[189] The leaves are harvested in summer, autumn or winter and are soaked in water for 24 hours prior to cooking. The fibres are cooked for 2 hours with soda ash and then beaten in a ball mill for 1½ hours. They make a green or brown paper[189]. The hairs of the fruits are used for stuffing pillows etc[257]. They have good insulating and buoyancy properties and have also been used as a wound dressing and a lining for babies nappies[99]. The flowering stems can be dried and used for insulation, they also have good buoyancy properties[55, 171]. The pollen is highly inflammable, it is used in making fireworks etc[115].
Cultivation details
Industrial Crop: Biomass;  Industrial Crop: Fiber;  Management: Hay;  Minor Global Crop.

Landscape Uses:Container, Erosion control, Massing, Specimen. A very easily grown plant, succeeding in the boggy margins of ponds or in shallow water up to 15cm deep[17]. It succeeds in acid and calcareous soils and requires a less organic-rich soil than T. angustifolia in order to do well[17]. It succeeds in sun or part shade[200]. A very invasive plant spreading freely at the roots when in a suitable site, it is not suitable for growing in small areas[24]. Unless restrained by some means, such as a large bottomless container, the plant will soon completely take over a site and will grow into the pond, gradually filling it in. This species will often form an almost complete monoculture in boggy soil. Provides excellent cover for wild fowl[1]. Special Features:Attracts birds, North American native, Grows submerged, Invasive, Wetlands plant, Suitable for dried flowers.
Seed - surface sow in a pot and stand it in 3cm of water. Pot up the young seedlings as soon as possible and, as the plants develop, increase the depth of water. Plant out in summer. Division in spring. Very easy, harvest the young shoots when they are about 10 - 30cm tall, making sure there is at least some root attached, and plant them out into their permanent positions.
Other Names
Found In
Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :
Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Sparganium stoloniferum 11
Typha angustifoliaSmall Reed Mace, Narrowleaf cattail53
Typha bungeana 43
Typha davidiana 43
Typha domingensisSouthern Cattail43
Typha glaucaHybrid cattail40
Typha laxmannii 41
Typha minima 23
Typha orientalisBroadleaf Cumbungi43


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Readers comment
Pamela Freeman   Mon Oct 30 2006
Is there anything in this plant that helps to get you better from sinus, or stuffy head. Like any medice it is put in that makes you get over these kind of problems.
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Subject : Typha latifolia  

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