Typha angustifolia L.
Typha angustifolia L. var. calumetensis Peattie
Typha angustifolia L. var. elongata (Dudley) Wiegand
Narrow-leaved Cattails, Narrowleaf Cattail, Lesser Bulrush, Lesser Reedmace
Narrowleaf cattail is now common in North American fresh to brackish wetlands, but it may originally have come from Europe. The straplike leaves may be woven into mats and chairs, as well as thatch.
Plants: A stiff unbranched stem 3-7' (91-213 cm) tall is light green to green, and round. See this comparison of narrowlead and broadleaf cattails.
Leaves: Up to four straplike leaves (up to 16 by some accounts), each 18-72" (45-182 cm) long, parallel the stem, or spread slightly away from it. They are very narrow, only ⅛-⅜" (3-12 mm) across, and flat. Leaves attach to the base of the plant, resembling giant blades of grass, and having similar parallel leaf veins. Viewed in cross-section, the leaves are slightly bent into a crescent shape.
Flowers: A dense, dark brown nearly perfect cylinder perches vertically atop each stem, like a dark brown hot dog skewered for the campfire. Well actually two hot dogs, separated by 1-3" (2.5-7.6 cm) of stem. The upper flower spike is lighter in color and narrower, and is the male (staminate) portion; while the lower female (pistillate) spike is green, turning to dark brown. Flowers appear from May to June.
Fruits: As the flowers mature they become soft and light tan in color, releasing tiny nutlets borne on soft hairs.
Edibility: Dormant sprouts on roots and leaf bases, the inner core of the stalk, green bloom spikes, and starchy roots are edible. Roots may be boiled like potatoes.
Typha angustifolia at Illinois Wildflowers
Typha angustifolia on Wikipedia
Typha angustifolia on www.bwsr.state.mn.us
Typha angustifolia on the New England Wildflower Society’s GoBotany site
Typha angustifolia at the United States Geographical Society's Nonindigenous Aquatic Species site
Typha angustifolia description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 12 Oct 2018.