Broad-Leaved Cat-Tail (Typha latifolia)

Typhaceae or Cat-Tail Family

Up to about 6 ft tall.  Leaves strap-like, in a fan.  Flower stalk topped by a sausage-shaped spike, initially green, turning brown.  Above that is a narrower spike, green, then golden-yellow, then withering (as in the pictures).  The lower sausage contains the minute female flowers; the upper spike contains the equally minute male flowers. The female sausage will produce fruits which are specks of down that blow on the wind carrying the seeds to new locations.

A plant only of shallow water.  Common in the marshes near the entrance and at the base of the Grand Staircase.  Golden male flowers in late spring to early summer; brown female flowers a little later persist until they dissolve into fluff in the fall.

Cat-tails are very distinctive in flower or fruit and unlikely to be confused with anything else.  Before the flowers form, the leaves resemble iris leaves, but no iris in Wildwood gets so big.  Two other cat-tail species are found in North America but are unlikely to be found in the park.

More Information:

Species of the Month          RU student article