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Common and Scientific Names

Cattails belong to the Family Typhaceae.

Typha latifolia is the scientific name
of the plant commonly called cattails.

In ancient Greek Typha means cattails.
Latifolia is Latin for broad-leaf.

What Do Cattails Look Like?

Cattails are the most familiar of the wetland plants.

Cattails are very tall and grow up to nine feet in good conditions. Their leaves are long, spearlike, and broad, with parallel-veins when seen under a microscope.

The flowers of Typha latifolia grow on a long stalk and become large, brown spikes. This flower spike becomes a fluffy cluster of seeds that will be
dispersed in the wind. When roasted, the seeds are edible.

Where Are Cattails Found?

Typha latifolia is usually found in streams,
along rivers, lakes or ponds, where there is shallow, slow moving or standing water.

Cattail Cordage

Cattails were harvested late in the growing season and dried. Then the broad leaves were dampened and split into small strips starting at the base of the leaf and splitting towards the tip. After splitting the leaves the cattail, which made a strong cordage, could be twisted or braided into cordage.