Plants of Southern New Jersey

Citizens United to Protect the Maurice River & Its Tributaries
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Plant Profile

Typha latifolia L.  

cattail, bulrush

Typa latifolia

Photo by Renee Brecht Britton and Brown. See credits below.**

Botanical name: Typha latifolia L.
Common name: cattail, bulrush
Group: monocot
Family: Typaceae
Growth Type: forb/herb
Duration: perennial
Origin: native
Plant height: 3-9'
Foliage: bluish- or grayish-green, nearly flat up to 1" wide.
Flower color: The upper and lower portions of the spike touch each other.
Flowering/fruiting time mid June to July; fruit mid July to late August
Habitat: shallow, fresh to slightly brackish waters of ponds streams marshes and ditches
Range in New Jersey: statewide, increasing inland; rare in the Pine Barrens
Heritage ranking if any: n/a
Misc.: Often hybridizes with Typha angusifolia.
Greek, "bulrush, cattail"; latifolia, Latin, "broad leaf"
Typha is rhyizomatic. Various birds such as rails, bitterns, ducks, and red-winged blackbirds nest in Typha. The cattail was well-utilized for food by natives; the early shoots were eaten either raw or cooked. The young flower heads were boiled and eaten like corn on the cob. Its pollen is mixed with flour. The rootstocks can be made into flour or cooked like potatoes.
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USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913. An illustrated flora of the northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. Vol. 1: 68
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