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   Linnaeus named this genus and species in 1753.  "Latifolia" is Latin for "wide leaves".  "Typha" is the ancient Greek name for Cattails and perhaps refers to the "smoke-like" ("typh" is Greek for "smoke") mass dispersal of seeds.  See the bottom photograph to understand why "Typha" is a very appropriate name.

Typha latifolia

Typha latifolia (Cattail)
Typhaceae (Cattail Family)

Foothills, montane, subalpine. Wetlands. Summer.
Near Yellow Jacket Canyon, July 4, 2007 and August 22, 2014.

Cattails are almost as familiar to all of us as Robins and squirrels. Cattails grow in dense colonies in ponds, roadside wet areas, and irrigation run-off. They are unmistakable, growing long slim leaves to 5 feet tall and putting forth a giant flower stalk to 7 feet tall with a 6 inch tall seed pod. The very dense, brown pod bears thousands of seeds that are dispersed on tiny fluff when the pod ripens and bursts, from late fall to early spring -- or when the pod is squeezed and exploded by fun-loving humans who are immediately engulfed in a cloud of seeds that stick to everything.

Typha latifolia (Cattail)
Typhaceae (Cattail Family)

Foothills, montane, subalpine. Wetlands. Summer.
Near Yellowjacket Canyon, July 4, 2007.

The brown/yellow pollen structures are ready to fertilize the tightly packed green ovules to give rise to the seeds.  

Typha latifolia (Cattail)
Typhaceae (Cattail Family)

Foothills, montane, subalpine. Wetlands. Summer.
Near Yellowjacket Canyon, March 11, 2004.

The brown stick-like projection at the top center carried the brown/yellow pollen structures shown above.  The brown mass of seeds below the projection is the product of the fertilized green ovules.

Typha latifolia (Cattail)
Typhaceae (Cattail Family)

Foothills, montane, subalpine. Wetlands. Summer.
Near Yellowjacket Canyon, March 11, 2004.

Brown seeds are imbedded in a fluff which carries the seeds on the slightest breeze. Stand back! Bring a seed head into your house only after you have lacquered it.

Range map © John Kartesz,
Floristic Synthesis of North America

State Color Key

Species present in state and native
Species present in state and exotic
Species not present in state

County Color Key

Species present and not rare
Species present and rare
Species extirpated (historic)
Species extinct
Species noxious
Species exotic and present
Native species, but adventive in state
Eradicated
Questionable presence

Range map for  Typha latifolia