The Nonindigenous Occurrences section of the NAS species profiles has a new structure. The section is now dynamically updated from the NAS database to ensure that it contains the most current and accurate information. Occurrences are summarized in Table 1, alphabetically by state, with years of earliest and most recent observations, and the tally and names of drainages where the species was observed. The table contains hyperlinks to collections tables of specimens based on the states, years, and drainages selected. References to specimens that were not obtained through sighting reports and personal communications are found through the hyperlink in the Table 1 caption or through the individual specimens linked in the collections tables.

Typha domingensis
Typha domingensis
(southern cattail)
Native Transplant
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Typha domingensis Persoon 1807

Common name: southern cattail

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

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

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).

Size: 1.5 to 4 m height (Baldwin et al. 2012)

Native Range: The Caribbean, North America (California, Lower Colorado, Rio Grande, Arkansas-White-Red, Texas-Gulf, Lower Mississippi, and South Atlantic-Gulf Regions), Central, and South America (GBIF 2013)

Hydrologic Unit Codes (HUCs) Explained
Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps

Nonindigenous Occurrences:

Table 1. States with nonindigenous occurrences, the earliest and latest observations in each state, and the tally and names of HUCs with observations†. Names and dates are hyperlinked to their relevant specimen records. The list of references for all nonindigenous occurrences of Typha domingensis are found here.

StateFirst ObservedLast ObservedTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
HI193920172Maui; Oahu
IL196620187Des Plaines; Little Wabash; Lower Illinois-Lake Chautauqua; Lower Illinois-Senachwine Lake; Salt; Spoon; Upper Illinois
IA200820192Blackbird-Soldier; Floyd
KY199720092Licking; Lower Kentucky
MO200820162Lower Missouri-Moreau; Meramec
NE195120112Middle Platte-Buffalo; Penobscot
OR201720171Middle Columbia-Lake Wallula
TN200820081Lower Cumberland-Old Hickory Lake
WA198420133Lower Crab; Upper Columbia-Entiat; Upper Columbia-Priest Rapids

Table last updated 1/19/2021

† 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 plants species (Gallardo-Williams et al. 2002).

Means of Introduction: Likely introduced while hitchhiking on vehicles based on the frequent occurrences in roadside ditches. Another possibility is introduction via shoreline restoration plantings, especially where all three Typha species are present.

Status: Established in conterminous US, but population status is unknown in Hawaii

Impact of Introduction: Typha domingensis has alleopathic properties that inhibit growth of other plant species in the community through phytotoxins leached into the soil (Gallardo-Williams 2002).

Remarks: Native Americans would utilize young shoots for food, leaves for thatch, and seed fluff mixed with tallow to be chewed as gum (Timbrook 1984, Arenas and Scarpa 2003). The family Typhaceae, which contains cattails (Typha sp.) and bur-reeds (Sparganium sp.) is not considered a graminoid (grass, sedge, or rush), but it is closely related to those families and shares the order Poales (Angiosperm Phylogeny Group 2009).

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.

Author: Pfingsten, I.A.

Revision Date: 3/14/2019

Citation Information:
Pfingsten, I.A., 2021, Typha domingensis Persoon 1807: U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?speciesID=3020, Revision Date: 3/14/2019, Access Date: 1/20/2021

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.


The data represented on this site vary in accuracy, scale, completeness, extent of coverage and origin. It is the user's responsibility to use these data consistent with their intended purpose and within stated limitations. We highly recommend reviewing metadata files prior to interpreting these data.

Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2021]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [1/20/2021].

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