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Narrow-leaf cattail

Quick facts

Narrow-leaf cattail is an unlisted non-native species. These species have no restrictions on sale, purchase, or possession, but they may not be introduced into a free-living state without MN DNR approval and thorough evaluation.

  • Narrow-leaf cattails are found in disturbed native wetland communities.

  • They can develop large monocultures, outcompete native vegetation and will crossbreed with native, broad-leaf cattail.

  • Narrow-leaf cattails should be reported. 

See the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources recommendations for reporting invasive species.

How to identify narrow-leaf cattails

Typha angustifolia

  • Perennial.
  • Can reach heights of four to twelve feet. 
  • Brown cylindrical flowering heads on slender green stocks.
  • Easily confused with native broad-leaf cattails (Typha latifolia).

Leaves

  • Dark green, sword-like leaves.

  • Typically between one fourth to one half inches wide.

  • Originate from the base of horizontal stems.

Flowers

  • Velvety brown, cigar-shaped spikes.

  • two to six inches long.

  • Gap between the lower (female) and upper (male) flower of one inch or more.

  • Sheds pollen in single grains.

Narrow-leaf cattail

Seeds

  • Stored within the spike, each plant can produce and disperse up to 250,000 seeds.

  • Seeds are wind-dispersed and can remain viable for 50–100 years.

Roots

  • Can reproduce vegetatively through rhizomes.

  • Rhizomes in cattail colonies can become intertwined and form thick mats.

Angela Gupta, Extension educator; Amy Rager, Extension educator; Megan M. Weber, Extension educator

Reviewed in 2019

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