Synonyms and Other Names: T. truxillensis, HBK., 1815; T. bracteata, Greene, 1887; T. angustifolia var. virginica, Tidestrom, 1911; Typha angustata Bory & Chaub. 1832
cattail, slender cattail, narrowleaf cattail, tule cattail
Identification: According to Baldwin et al. (2012):
Habit: perennial, emergent, aquatic forb (herbaceous flowering plant that is not a grass, sedge, or rush)
Stems/Roots: rhizomes with stolons; cylindrical, erect shoots, 3-4 mm wide near the inflorescence
Leaves: arrangement alternate; shape linear; margin entire; surface glabrous (hairless); brownish glands visible from base of inner (adaxial) leaf surface; air cavities within leaves (aerenchyma)
Flowers: monoecious, terminal, spiked inflorescence with female spike below the male spike on the stem; usually a 1-8 cm bare stem separates the two spikes; female spike is cinnamon to medium brown in color; bractlets on female flowers are straw-colored
Fruits/Seeds: wind-(and water-)dispersed follicle
Look-a-likes: The other two Typha species lack the brownish glands dotted on the inner surface at the base of the leaves. Broad-leaf cattail (Typha latifolia L.) generally has no bare stem between male and female floral spikes and lacks bractlets (leaf-like structure subtending flowers; smaller than bracts) on female flowers. Narrow-leaf cattail (Typha angustifolia L.) has a darker brown coloration on the female floral spikes compared to T. domingensis. All three Typha species readily hybridize, with identifying features often within the range of those of the parents; the female floral braclets are the main distinction (Smith 1967).
† Populations may not be currently present.
Habitat: freshwater to brackish marshes and nutrient-rich roadside ditches, generally below 1,500 meters (Baldwin et al. 2012)
Life history: fruit dispersal range is about 0.5 km (Soons 2006)
Tolerances: Typha domingensis can tolerate higher salinity than other Typha species found in the US (Hotchkiss and Dozier 1949), although seeds and seedlings require low salinity for establishment (Beare and Zedler 1987). This species can also allocate more resources to root and flower growth in deeper water than other Typha species (Grace 1987; Grace 1989).
Community: Typha domingensis releases phytotoxins (poisonous, secondary plant metabolites) into the soil that inhibit growth and photosynthesis of neighboring plant species (Gallardo-Williams et al. 2002).
References: (click for full references)
Angiosperm Phylogeny Group. 2009. An update of the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group classification for the orders and families of flowering plants: APG III. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 161(2):105–121. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1095-8339.2009.00996.x.
Arenas, P., and G.F. Scarpa. 2003. The Consumption of Typha domingensis Pers. (Typhaceae) Pollen among the Ethnic Groups of the Gran Chaco, South America. Economic Botany 57(2):181-188. https://www.jstor.org/stable/4256677.
Baldwin, B.G., D.H. Goldman, D.J. Keil, R. Patterson, T.J. Rosatti, and D.H. Wilken. 2012. The Jepson Manual: Vascular Plants of California. 2nd edition. University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA.
Beare, P.A., and J.B. Zedler. 1987. Cattail invasion and persistence in a coastal salt marsh: The role of salinity reduction. Estuaries 10(2):165-170. https://doi.org/10.2307/1352181.
Gallardo-Williams, M.T., C.L. Geiger, J.A. Pidala, and D.F. Martin. 2002. Essential fatty acids and phenolic acids from extracts and leachates of southern cattail (Typha domingensis P.). Phytochemistry 59(3):305-308. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0031-9422(01)00449-6.
GBIF. 2013. Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) Database. Global Biodiversity Information Facility. http://www.gbif.org/. Accessed on 05/01/2013.
Grace, J.B. 1987. The impact of preemption on the zonation of two Typha species along lakeshores. Ecological Monographs 57(4):283-303.
Grace, J.B. 1989. Effects of water depth on Typha latifolia and Typha domingensis. American Journal of Botany 76(5):762-768. https://doi.org/10.1002/j.1537-2197.1989.tb11371.x.
Hotchkiss, N., and H.L. Dozier. 1949. Taxonomy and distribution of N. American cat-tails. The American Midland Naturalist 41(1):237-254. http://www.jstor.org/stable/2422028.
Smith, S.G. 1967. Experimental and natural hybrids in North American Typha (Typhaceae). The American Midland Naturalist 78(2):257-287. https://www.jstor.org/stable/2485231.
Soons, M. 2006. Wind dispersal in freshwater wetlands: knowledge for conservation and restoration. Applied Vegetation Science 9:271-278.
Timbrook, J. 1984. Chumash ethnobotany: a preliminary report. Journal of Ethnobiology 4(2):141-169. https://ethnobiology.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/JoE/4-2/Timbrook1984.pdf.
This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.