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Southern Cattail
(Typha domingensis)

Southern cattails are perennial wetland plants with long, slender green stalks topped with brown, fluffy, sausage-shaped flowering heads.


Regulated areas of Southern cattail
This species is Prohibited (Red counties)

Other names for this plant include:

  • Common names: Tall cattail
  • Scientific names: Typha angustata

Ecological threat:

  • Invade freshwater marshes, wet meadows, fens, roadsides, ditches, shallow ponds, stream, and lake shores.
  • Play an important role as a source of food and shelter for some marsh-dwelling animals, but large mono-specific stands of invasive cattails exclude some less common species.

Classification in Wisconsin: Prohibited

Species Assessment Groups (SAG) were assembled to recommend a legal classification for each species considered for NR 40. The recommendation for Southern cattail was based upon this literature review developed by the department.


Leaves: Pale yellow-green leaves are alternate, long, linear, flat and sheathing. There are 6-9 leaves per stem, up to 5/8 inch wide, flat on one side and convex on the other.

Flowers: Numerous tiny flowers densely packed into a cylindrical spike at end of a stem that can grow up to 8 feet. It is divided into an upper section of yellow, male flowers and lower cinnamon brown, sausage-shaped section of female flowers. There is a gap around 2.5-5cm between male and female flowers.

Fruits & seeds: Seeds are tiny (about 1 mm), dispersed by wind with the aid of numerous hairs.

Roots: Plants reproduce vegetatively by means of starchy underground rhizomes to form large colonies.

Stems: Stems are pithy, simple, erect and 5-13 feet tall.

Similar species: There are other species of cattail in Wisconsin that may be confused with Southern cattail. Broad leaved cattail (Typha latifolia) is native to WI, while narrow-leaved (T. angustifolia) and hybrids (T. glauca) are also considered invasive. Southern cattail has beige or cinnamon-colored fruiting bodies, compared to the darker auburn or brown coloration of the broad and narrow-leaved cattail fruiting spikes. Southern cattail is usually taller and has flattened and more numerous leaves than narrow-leaved cattail.


Counties in WI where Southern cattail has been reported (as of April 2013). Both vouchered and unvouchered reports included.

Do you have Southern cattail in your county but it isn't shaded on the map? Have you seen it? Send us a report.


Mechanical: Cut all stems, both green and dead in mid to late summer or early fall. Where possible maintain a water level of a minimum of 3” above the cut stems for the entire growing season.

Chemical: Foliar spray with aquatic approved imazypr. Herbicide applications near water may require a permit.


View Southern cattail pictures in our photo gallery!


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Last revised: Monday December 11 2017