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Cattail hybrid

(Typha x glauca)

Photo of Cattail hybrid
Photo credit: Robert Freckmann

Perennial, erect wetland plant reaching 5-10’ tall, often with an underwater base. The hybrid cattail is a hybrid of common (broad-leaved) and narrow-leaved cattails and its structure is intermediate between its parental species.

The best way to identify the hybrids is first to learn the characteristics of T. angustifolia and T. latifolia, then look for intermediate plants.

Overview map of cattail hybrid classification in WI
Restricted (orange) counties

Other names for this plant include:

  • Common names: white cattail

Classification in Wisconsin: Restricted

Ecological Threat
  • Invades freshwater marshes, wet meadows, fens, roadsides, ditches, shallow ponds, streams and lakeshores.
  • It is vital as a food source and shelter for some marsh-dwelling animals. Still, large mono-specific stands of invasive cattails spread vegetatively, displacing other plants providing food and cover and excluding some less common species.

Leaves: Erect, linear, flat-leaf blades are 0.3-0.8” wide and generally longer than the parents. About 15 leaves emerge per shoot. The top of the leaf sheath has thin, ear-shaped lobes at the junction with the blade that usually disintegrates in the summer.

Flowers: Numerous tiny flowers densely packed into a cylindrical spike at the end of the stem, divided into the upper section of yellow male flowers and lower brown (in hybrid cattail green in bloom), sausage-shaped area of female flowers. The gap between male and female cells is about 0-2” in hybrid cattail. They flower in late spring.

Fruits & seeds: Seeds are tiny (about 1 mm), dispersed by the wind with the aid of numerous hairs. Each hybrid cattail is highly sterile and produces no or very few seeds.

Roots: Plants reproduce vegetatively using starchy underground rhizomes, which form large colonies.

Similar species: Narrow-leaved cattail (Typha angustifolia; invasive) has leaf blades that are 0.15-0.5” wide and are dark green. Gaps between male and female flowers range from 0.5-4” in narrow-leaved cattail.

Common (broad-leaved) cattail (Typha latifolia; native) generally does not have a gap between male and female sections of the inflorescence and differs in several often tiny features of the leaves, flowers and fruits.


Mechanical: Cut all green and dead stems in mid to late summer or early fall. Where possible, maintain a minimum water level of 3” above the cut stems for the entire growing season.

Chemical: Foliar spray with imazapyr. Use herbicide label restrictions when applying near waterways.

Sources for content:
  • Czarapata, Elizabeth; Invasive Plants of the Upper Midwest: an illustrated guide to their identification and control. The University of Wisconsin Press. 2005. Pg. 80-83
  • Flora of North America. Typha x glauca [exit DNR]. Vol. 22 Pages 283, 284.
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