E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Typha latifolia L.
common cattail (broadleaf cattail; common bulrush)
Typhaceae (Cat-tail family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Adolf Ceska  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #5698)

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Distribution of Typha latifolia
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Species Information

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Perennial herb from tough, extensive rhizomes; stems erect, simple, hard, pithy, 100-300 cm tall.
Sheaths tapered to blades, sometimes veined; blades flat, 8-20 mm wide.
Inflorescence a densely crowded, terminal, cylindrical spike; female and male portions of the spikes usually contiguous; the female portion below, brown, 12-30 mm wide, the male portion above, slightly wider than the female; female flowers not subtended by a bract; stigmas lanceolate to egg-shaped; pollen grains in groups of four.
Follicles, dry, dehiscent, ellipsoid, long-hairy, about 1 mm long.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

USDA Species Characteristics

Flower Colour:
Blooming Period:
Late Spring
Fruit/Seed characteristics:
Colour: Brown
Present from Summer to Fall
Source:  The USDA

Habitat / Range

Wet ditches, ponds, lakeshores and marshes in the lowland, steppe and montane zones; common in S BC, less frequent in NE BC; circumpolar, N to AK, YT an NT, E to NF and S to ME, MA, PA, NC, FL, MS, LA, TX, NM, AZ, MX and CA; Eurasia, N Africa.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Typha latifolia

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres) 1 701 1870
Slope Gradient (%) 0 0 20
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
3 217 340
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
4 7 8
Modal Nutrient Regime
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: BG(11), BWBS(3), CDF(13), CWH(31), ESSF(1), ICH(22), IDF(84), MS(5), PP(19), SBPS(3), SBS(10)


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is not evaluated, unknown or variable.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

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General References