Skip to main content

Southern Cattail

(Typha domingensis)

Photo of southern cattail
Photo credit: Stan Shebs

Southern cattails are perennial wetland plants with long, slender green stalks topped with brown, fluffy, sausage-shaped flowering heads.

 Overview map of prohibited classification in WI
Prohibited (red) counties

Other names for this plant include:

  • Common names: Tall cattail
  • Scientific names: Typha angustata

Classification in Wisconsin: Prohibited

Ecological Threat
  • Invade freshwater marshes, wet meadows, fens, roadsides, ditches, shallow ponds, streams and lakeshores.
  • Play an essential role as a source of food and shelter for some marsh-dwelling animals, but large mono-specific stands of invasive cattails exclude some less common species.

Leaves: Pale yellow-green leaves are alternate, long, linear, flat and sheathing. There are 6-9 leaves per stem, up to 5/8 inch wide, flat on one side and convex on the other.

Flowers: Numerous tiny flowers densely packed into a cylindrical spike at the end of a stem that can grow up to 8 feet. It is divided into an upper section of yellow male flowers and a lower cinnamon-brown, sausage-shaped area of female flowers. There is a 2.5-5 cm gap between male and female flowers.

Fruits & seeds: Seeds are tiny (about 1 mm), dispersed by the wind with the aid of numerous hairs.

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

Stems: Stems are pithy, simple, erect and 5-13 feet tall.

Similar species: There are other species of cattail in Wisconsin that may be confused with Southern cattail. Broad-leaved cattail (Typha latifolia) is native to WI, while narrow-leaved (T. angustifolia) and hybrids (T. glauca) are also considered invasive. Southern cattail has beige or cinnamon-colored fruiting bodies, compared to the darker red or brown coloration of the broad and narrow-leaved cattail fruiting spikes. Southern cattail is usually taller and has flattened and more numerous leaves than narrow-leaved cattail.


See the reported locations of southern cattail in Wisconsin.

Do you know of additional populations? Please send us a report.


Mechanical: Cut all stems, green and dead 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 aquatic-approved imazapyr. Herbicide applications near water may require a permit.

Sources for content: Links for more information: