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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 a submersed base. Hybrid cattail is a hybrid of common (broad-leaved) and narrow-leaved cattails and its structure is intermediate between that of its parental species.

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


Other names for this plant include:
  • Common names: white cattail
Ecological threat:
  • Invades freshwater marshes, wet meadows, fens, roadsides, ditches, shallow ponds, stream and lakeshores.
  • It plays an important role as a source of food and shelter for some marsh-dwelling animals, but large mono-specific stands of invasive cattails spread vegetatively, displacing other plants providing food and cover and excluding some less common species.
Overview map of cattail hybrid classification in WI
Restricted (orange) counties

Classification in Wisconsin: Restricted

Species Assessment Groups (SAG) were assembled to recommend a legal classification for each species considered for NR 40. The recommendation for cattail hybrid was based upon this literature review [PDF] developed by the department.


Leaves: Erect, linear and 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 end of the stem, divided into the upper section of yellow male flowers and lower brown (in hybrid cattail green in flower), sausage-shaped section of female flowers. The gap between male and female sections 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 by means of 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 stems, both green and dead, in mid to late summer or early fall. Where possible, maintain a water level of a minimum of 3” above the cut stems for the entire growing season.

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


View cattail hybrid pictures in our photo gallery!


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