Narrow-leaved cattail

Scientific Name: Typha angustifolia

Identification: Narrow-leaved cattail is a tall perennial plant with long, narrow leaves and cigar-shaped flower clusters. The flower head contains two segments: the upper male segment, which is thin and yellow from pollen, and the lower female segment, which is brown and club-shaped. This plant is similar to native common cattail (Typha latifolia); however, there are a few key characteristics that easily distinguish narrow-leaved cattail from the native common cattail. Narrow-leaved cattail has green leaves that are always less than 0.5 inch (1.25 cm) across, while common cattail leaves are wider and often grayish blue. The narrow-leaved cattail has between 0.5 inch to 4 inches (1.25 cm to 10 cm) of bare stem between the male and female segments of the flower head, while the male and female parts always touch in the native species. Lastly, common cattail is found in shallow water, but narrow-leaved cattail is found in water usually more than 2.5 feet (0.75 m) deep. Narrow-leaved cattail is also known as lesser reed-mace, nail-rod, small reed-mace, and southern reed-mace.

Size: Narrow-leaved cattail can grow to 7 feet (2 m) tall. Leaves are 0.5 inch (1.25 cm) across.

Native Range: This species is native to Northern Africa, temperate Asia, and Eurasia.

Table 1. Great Lakes region nonindigenous occurrences, the earliest and latest observations in each state/province, 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 angustifolia are found here.

Full list of USGS occurrences

State/ProvinceYear of earliest observationYear of last observationTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
Indiana200820083Little Calumet-Galien; St. Joseph; St. Joseph
Michigan1877201960Au Gres-Rifle; Au Sable; Betsie-Platte; Betsy-Chocolay; Black-Macatawa; Black-Presque Isle; Boardman-Charlevoix; Brevoort-Millecoquins; Brule; Carp-Pine; Cedar-Ford; Cheboygan; Clinton; Dead-Kelsey; Detroit; Escanaba; Fishdam-Sturgeon; Flint; Great Lakes Region; Huron; Kalamazoo; Kawkawlin-Pine; Keweenaw Peninsula; Lake Erie; Lake Huron; Lake Michigan; Lake St. Clair; Lake Superior; Little Calumet-Galien; Lone Lake-Ocqueoc; Lower Grand; Manistee; Manistique; Menominee; Michigamme; Muskegon; Northeastern Lake Michigan; Northwestern Lake Huron; Ontonagon; Ottawa-Stony; Pere Marquette-White; Pigeon-Wiscoggin; Pine; Raisin; Shiawassee; Southeastern Lake Michigan; Southwestern Lake Huron; St. Clair; St. Clair-Detroit; St. Joseph; St. Marys; Sturgeon; Tacoosh-Whitefish; Tahquamenon; Thornapple; Thunder Bay; Tiffin; Tittabawassee; Upper Grand; Western Lake Erie
Minnesota200220173Beaver-Lester; Cloquet; St. Louis
New York1880201816Chaumont-Perch; Eastern Lake Erie; Great Lakes Region; Irondequoit-Ninemile; Lake Ontario; Lower Genesee; Northeastern Lake Ontario; Oak Orchard-Twelvemile; Oneida; Oswego; Oswego; Salmon-Sandy; Saranac River; Seneca; Southwestern Lake Ontario; St. Lawrence
Ohio2005201810Ashtabula-Chagrin; Auglaize; Black-Rocky; Cedar-Portage; Cuyahoga; Huron-Vermilion; Lake Erie; Sandusky; Southern Lake Erie; Western Lake Erie
Pennsylvania200820141Lake Erie
Vermont196520183Lake Champlain; Missiquoi River; Winooski River
Wisconsin2006201820Bad-Montreal; Beartrap-Nemadji; Black-Presque Isle; Brule; Door-Kewaunee; Duck-Pensaukee; Fox; Lake Michigan; Lake Winnebago; Lower Fox; Manitowoc-Sheboygan; Menominee; Milwaukee; Northwestern Lake Michigan; Northwestern Lake Michigan; Oconto; Peshtigo; Southwestern Lake Michigan; St. Louis; Upper Fox

Table last updated 10/12/2019

† Populations may not be currently present.

* HUCs are not listed for areas where the observation(s) cannot be approximated to a HUC (e.g. state centroids or Canadian provinces).

Means of Introduction: Evidence suggests that narrow-leaved cattail was introduced from Europe into Atlantic coastal North America and migrated westward through canals and ditches.

Status: This plant is established in 38 U.S. states and eight Canadian provinces. The first Great Lakes sighting was in 1880 in Lake Ontario.

Remarks: It is possible for narrow-leaved cattail and common cattail to produce a hybrid cattail (referred to as Typha × glauca). This hybrid may have characteristics of both parents and be difficult to distinguish from the native species. Hybrid cattail is considered more invasive than the narrow-leaved cattail, and should be reported to local natural resource managers.

Author: Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant

Contributing Agencies:
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Revision Date: 9/25/2012

Citation for this information:
Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant, 2019, Narrow-leaved cattail: U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, and NOAA Great Lakes Aquatic Nonindigenous Species Information System, Ann Arbor, MI,, Revision Date: 9/25/2012, Access Date: 10/13/2019

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.