Typha latifolia (broadleaf cattail)
- Summary of Invasiveness
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- Plant Type
- Distribution Table
- History of Introduction and Spread
- Risk of Introduction
- Habitat List
- Host Plants and Other Plants Affected
- Biology and Ecology
- Latitude/Altitude Ranges
- Air Temperature
- Soil Tolerances
- Natural enemies
- Notes on Natural Enemies
- Means of Movement and Dispersal
- Pathway Causes
- Pathway Vectors
- Impact Summary
- Economic Impact
- Environmental Impact
- Threatened Species
- Social Impact
- Risk and Impact Factors
- Uses List
- Detection and Inspection
- Similarities to Other Species/Conditions
- Prevention and Control
- Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs
- Links to Websites
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Typha latifolia Linnaeus, 1753
Preferred Common Name
- broadleaf cattail
Other Scientific Names
- Massula latifolia (L.) Dulac, 1867
- Typha crassa Raf., 1832
- Typha elatior Raf., 1808
International Common Names
- English: broad-leaved reedmace; bulrush; cattail; common cattail; common cattail; Cooper's reed; giant reed-mace; great cattail; soft-flag
- Spanish: Espadana; Macio comun
- French: Massette a larges feuilles
- Portuguese: tabua-larga
Local Common Names
- Australia: cumbungi
- Canada: quenoille a feuilles larges
- France: roseau des etangs
- Germany: Breitblaettriger Rohrkolben
- Italy: mazzasorda; stiancia d'acqua
- Japan: gama
- Netherlands: grote lisdodde
- New Zealand: great reed mace
- Portugal: tabua-larga
- Spain: espadana comun; piriope; totora; tule espidilla
- Sweden: bred kaveldun
- TYHLA (Typha latifolia)
Summary of InvasivenessTop of page
T. latifolia is a cosmopolitan plant, occurring in wetlands through most temperature zones in North America, Europe and Asia, and many subtropical areas. It has also begun to invade the few regions where it is not native, e.g., Oceania, South-East Asia and the Hawaiian islands. It forms dense populations under suitable conditions, often as monocultures excluding other species of vegetation. Holm et al. (1997) designated it as one of the “World’s Worst Weeds”. T. latifolia can reduce rice production, impact wildlife populations and can alter nutrient cycles negatively. In New Zealand it is classed as an “unwanted organism” as part of the National Plant Pest Accord (Champion et al., 2007). Potential for rapid clonal growth and long persistence of T. latifolia in areas where it is native presents a warning against establishment of this species in areas where it is not native and would impact native biodiversity.
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Spermatophyta
- Subphylum: Angiospermae
- Class: Monocotyledonae
- Order: Typhales
- Family: Typhaceae
- Genus: Typha
- Species: Typha latifolia
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page
Typha latifolia was named by Linnaeus in 1753. A significant hybrid is formed between T. latifolia and T. angustifolia: T. x glauca. Hybridization has been noted in Europe, but studied more recently in North America where there is still some question about the extent of T. x glauca (Zhang et al., 2008). There are numerous local common names in English and other languages, but broadleaf cattail seems to be the most widely used name in the literature.
DescriptionTop of page
T. latifolia is an erect thick-stemmed perennial with flowers consisting of cylindrical spikes, and stems 1-3 m tall. Linear, light green, flat leaves with a sheath at the base, extending to flowering spikes, 15-25 mm wide (Grace and Harris, 1986). Fibrous roots grow from rhizomes produced at base of leaves. Rhizomes are as long as 70 cm, 0.5-3 cm in diameter. Unisexual flowers include a pistillate portion below the staminate portion, forming a continuous spike 12-35 mm in diameter. Spike goes from green to brown as ripening occurs. Staminate flowers have hair-like bracteoles; bracteoles absent in pistillate flowers. Pollen grains formed in tetrads. Over 1000 flowers may be produced on one plant. Nutlike achenes about 1.5 mm long are derived from fertilized flowers. Seeds eventually break off generally by wind or water and are transported via long slender hairs (Hitchcock and Cronquist, 1973; Grace and Harrison, 1986; Welsh et al., 1987; Hickman, 1993; Larson, 1993; Pojar and MacKinnon, 1994).
Plant TypeTop of page
DistributionTop of page
T. latifolia is a cosmopolitan species, with its native range encompassing large regions on all continents, except Antarctica, Africa and Oceania. T. latifolia is known to occur in at least seven African countries (USDA-ARS, 2010). It is recorded as having been established as a non-native species in six countries (Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines) and the USA state of Hawaii (Global Invasive Species Database, 2006). In New Zealand, it is not presently established but it has been found within the nursery/aquarium trade (Champion et al., 2007). T. latifolia is currently recorded as naturalized in low-lying wet areas on three of the Hawaiian islands: Kauai, Hawaii (the big island), Maui and Oahu (Wagner et al., 1999; HISP, 2008; PIER, 2009). Given the ability of T. latifolia to thrive in a broad array of temperature or semi-tropical habitats from the Arctic circle to 30°S latitude (Sculthorpe, 1967), T. latifolia may also be established on other oceanic islands with suitable wetland habitats (but not recorded). It is also increasingly seen as taking on invasive characteristics in some countries where it is native (Shih and Finkelstein, 2008; Olson et al., 2009). Furthermore, the hybrid product of T. latifolia and T. angustifolia, T. x glauca tends to be more invasive than T. latifolia (Olson et al., 2009).
Distribution TableTop of page
The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.Last updated: 25 Feb 2021
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Reference||Notes|
|China||Present||Native||Original citation: Kravchenko and Ushakova (2003-2009)|
|Japan||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|Mongolia||Present||Native||Original citation: Kravchenko and Ushakova (2003-2009)|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||Present||Native|
|Federal Republic of Yugoslavia||Present||Native|
|-Central Russia||Present||Native||Original citation: Kravchenko and Ushakova (2003-2009)|
|-Eastern Siberia||Present||Native||Original citation: Kravchenko and Ushakova (2003-2009)|
|-Northern Russia||Present||Native||Original citation: Kravchenko and Ushakova (2003-2009)|
|-Russian Far East||Present||Native||Original citation: Kravchenko and Ushakova (2003-2009)|
|-Southern Russia||Present||Native||Original citation: Kravchenko and Ushakova (2003-2009)|
|-Western Siberia||Present||Native||Original citation: Kravchenko and Ushakova (2003-2009)|
|Canada||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|-Newfoundland and Labrador||Present||Native|
|-Prince Edward Island||Present||Native|
|-Hawaii||Present||Introduced||Naturalized||"sparingly naturalised in low elevation, marshy sites" (Wagner et al., 1999; p. 1614)|
|Papua New Guinea||Present||Introduced|
History of Introduction and SpreadTop of page
Details of how T. latifolia spread beyond its native range are difficult to ascertain, partly because there are so few regions in the world where it is not native. Furthermore, similarities between T. latifolia and native Typha species may have helped obscure invasions of new areas. Even in North America, where T. x glauca (hybrid of T. angustifolia and T. latifolia) has recently been seen to occupy a much larger distribution, the history of the spread of T. x glauca and the mechanisms involved have yet to be worked out (Shih and Finkelstein, 2008; Zhang et al., 2008).
Risk of IntroductionTop of page
A risk assessment was carried out for T. latifolia according to the Australian/New Zealand Weed Risk Assessment adapted for Hawaii (PIER, 2008). This identified T. latifolia having a high risk of invasion for the Pacific Islands, based on information from throughout the world on invasive features of T. latifolia such as high levels of seed production, persistence of seeds and rhizomes, and ability to form monocultures in wetland areas. There are few temperate or subtropical regions in the world where T. latifolia is not found, and therefore it would appear that this highly adaptable species is a threat to invade areas where it does not exist, especially if transported anthropogenically, either intentionally or accidentally.
HabitatTop of page
T. latifolia grows in a wide variety of wetland habitats. Niches include marshes, wet meadows, lakeshores, roadside ditches, seacoast estuaries, pond margins, bogs or fens as well as rice paddies (Grace and Harrison, 1986). Salt tolerance is limited, but it does grow in marine wetlands with moderate salinity, and likewise can tolerate acidity (Hotchkiss and Dozier, 1949; Smith, 1967a,b; Hootsmans and Weigman, 1998). Communities occupied by T. latifolia range from early to late successional stages. Although it is a dominant species in many wetlands forming high densities, in other wetlands it occurs as scattered individuals or clumps. It also may occupy somewhat drier sites, such as along the edge of marshy woodlands or among woody shrubs (Grace and Wetzel, 1981a). It tends to prefer shallower water zones than T. angustifolia (Grace and Wetzel, 1981b). The only type of agricultural habitat where T. latifolia regularly occurs is in rice paddies (Mitich, 2001).
Habitat ListTop of page
|Brackish||Inland saline areas||Secondary/tolerated habitat||Natural|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Cultivated / agricultural land||Principal habitat||Natural|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Disturbed areas||Secondary/tolerated habitat||Natural|
|Terrestrial||Natural / Semi-natural||Riverbanks||Secondary/tolerated habitat||Natural|
|Terrestrial||Natural / Semi-natural||Wetlands||Principal habitat||Natural|
|Littoral||Coastal areas||Secondary/tolerated habitat||Natural|
|Littoral||Salt marshes||Secondary/tolerated habitat||Natural|
|Freshwater||Irrigation channels||Principal habitat||Natural|
|Freshwater||Rivers / streams||Principal habitat||Natural|
|Marine||Inshore marine||Principal habitat||Natural|
Host Plants and Other Plants AffectedTop of page
|Colocasia esculenta (taro)||Araceae||Main|
Biology and EcologyTop of page
Flooding and water depth are key determinants of the establishment and persistence of T. latifolia populations. Tolerance of fluctuating water levels depends on a variety of factors, including the maturity of plants, rhizome production, associated vegetation and other disturbances (Grace, 1989; Gucker, 2008). As an emergent plant, optimal water levels tend to be high enough to keep lower parts of the plants submerged, but low enough to prevent interference with photosynthesis and respiration. Controlled experiments showed decreased rhizome production at water levels above 30 cm (Weller, 1975). T. latifolia died in water depths over 95 cm and density was greatest at 22 cm depths in experimental ponds in Arkansas (Grace, 1989). Oxygen is transported from aerial portions to rhizomes to allow survival and growth so long as enough of the plant is above water (Sale and Wetzel, 1983). T. latifolia has been found to tolerate drying of wetlands over several months (Fickbohm and Zhu, 2006), but perish if water was drained for a period of 2 years (Nelson and Dietz, 1966).
ClimateTop of page
|Am - Tropical monsoon climate||Tolerated||Tropical monsoon climate ( < 60mm precipitation driest month but > (100 - [total annual precipitation(mm}/25]))|
|BW - Desert climate||Tolerated||< 430mm annual precipitation|
|Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year||Preferred||Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year|
|Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer||Preferred||Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers|
|Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter||Preferred||Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)|
|Df - Continental climate, wet all year||Preferred||Continental climate, wet all year (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, wet all year)|
|Ds - Continental climate with dry summer||Preferred||Continental climate with dry summer (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, dry summers)|
|Dw - Continental climate with dry winter||Tolerated||Continental climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, dry winters)|
|ET - Tundra climate||Tolerated||Tundra climate (Average temp. of warmest month < 10°C and > 0°C)|
Latitude/Altitude RangesTop of page
|Latitude North (°N)||Latitude South (°S)||Altitude Lower (m)||Altitude Upper (m)|
Air TemperatureTop of page
|Parameter||Lower limit||Upper limit|
|Absolute minimum temperature (ºC)||-63|
|Mean annual temperature (ºC)||-6||28|
|Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC)||15||40|
|Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC)||-31||22|
RainfallTop of page
|Parameter||Lower limit||Upper limit||Description|
|Mean annual rainfall||70||mm; lower/upper limits|
Soil TolerancesTop of page
- seasonally waterlogged
Special soil tolerances
Natural enemiesTop of page
|Natural enemy||Type||Life stages||Specificity||References||Biological control in||Biological control on|
|Arsilonche albovenosa||Herbivore||Leaves||to genus|
|Bellura obliqua||Herbivore||Leaves/Stems||to genus|
|Calendra pertinax||Herbivore||Leaves/Stems||to genus|
|Dicymolomia julianalis||Herbivore||Inflorescence/Seeds||to genus|
|Limnaecia phragmitella||Herbivore||Inflorescence/Seeds||to genus|
Notes on Natural EnemiesTop of page
Means of Movement and DispersalTop of page
T. latifolia is used in many regions of the world for ecological restoration of wetlands (Motivans and Afelbaum, 1987; Dobberteen and Nickerson, 1991; Svengsouk and Mitch, 2001) or for construction of artificial wetland systems used in the amelioration of contaminants (Ciria et al., 2005; Calheiros et al., 2009). Movement of T. latifolia may also be associated with its use as a crop, especially as a potential biomass crop (Ciria et al., 2005).
Pathway CausesTop of page
|Aquaculture||Yes||Champion et al., 2007|
|Flooding and other natural disasters||Yes||USDA-NRCS, 2010|
|Industrial purposes||Yes||Yes||Calheiros et al., 2009; Ciria et al., 2005; USDA-NRCS, 2010|
|Interconnected waterways||Yes||Hansen and Clevenger, 2005|
|Nursery trade||Yes||USDA-NRCS, 2010|
|Ornamental purposes||Yes||USDA-NRCS, 2010|
Pathway VectorsTop of page
Impact SummaryTop of page
|Economic/livelihood||Positive and negative|
|Environment (generally)||Positive and negative|
Economic ImpactTop of page
Excessive populations of T. latifolia may invade canals, ditches, reservoirs, cultivated fields, and farm ponds; it may impact recreational lakes negatively and reduce biodiversity and displace species more desirable for certain kinds of wildlife (Morton, 1975; Grace and Harrison, 1986; Thieret and Luken, 1996).
Environmental ImpactTop of page
In Hawaii, wetlands are home to rare endemic birds such as the Hawaiian stilt (Himantopus himantopus knudseni) and the Hawaiin duck or koloa maoli (Anas wyvilliana) which are threatened by infestations of T. latifolia (HISP, 2008). Likewise, there are vulnerable indigenous wetland species in other geographic regions being invaded by T. latifolia such as New Zealand, Australia and parts of Southeast Asia. The ability of T. latifolia to quickly spread once it is introduced to an area is augmented by the potential seen in recent years for hybridization with other Typha species (Galatowitsch et al., 1999), although more work needs to be carried out to understand the nature of such hybridization (Shih and Finkelstein, 2008; Zhang et al., 2008).
Threatened SpeciesTop of page
|Threatened Species||Conservation Status||Where Threatened||Mechanism||References||Notes|
|Anas wyvilliana (Hawaiian duck)||EN (IUCN red list: Endangered)||Hawaii||Hawaii Invasive Species Partnership, HISP; IUCN, 2008|
|Himantopus himantopus (black-winged stilt)||LC (IUCN red list: Least concern)||Hawaii||Hawaii Invasive Species Partnership, HISP; IUCN, 2008|
|Xyris tennesseensis (Tennessee yellow-eyed grass)||USA ESA listing as endangered species||USA||Ecosystem change / habitat alteration||US Fish and Wildlife Service, 1994|
Social ImpactTop of page
T. latifolia is a well-known plant to many people around the world, and often an indicator of healthy wetlands, which are increasingly recognized as providing significant ecosystem services in the global environment. However, in contexts where T. latifolia negatively impacts the environment, particularly wildlife, a negative social impact results as well (Motivans and Apfelbaum, 1987; HISP, 2008).
Risk and Impact FactorsTop of page
- Proved invasive outside its native range
- Has a broad native range
- Abundant in its native range
- Highly adaptable to different environments
- Pioneering in disturbed areas
- Long lived
- Fast growing
- Has high reproductive potential
- Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
- Reproduces asexually
- Damaged ecosystem services
- Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
- Infrastructure damage
- Modification of fire regime
- Modification of hydrology
- Modification of natural benthic communities
- Modification of nutrient regime
- Modification of successional patterns
- Monoculture formation
- Negatively impacts agriculture
- Negatively impacts aquaculture/fisheries
- Reduced native biodiversity
- Soil accretion
- Threat to/ loss of endangered species
- Threat to/ loss of native species
- Transportation disruption
- Competition - monopolizing resources
- Competition - shading
- Competition - smothering
- Interaction with other invasive species
- Rapid growth
- Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
- Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
- Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant
- Difficult/costly to control
UsesTop of page
The value of T. latifolia and its congeners to a variety of wildlife has been well documented (Grace and Harrison, 1986). Certain types of wildlife such as red-winged blackbirds and muskrats in North America have a very close association with cattail marshes (Skinner and Skinner, 2008). T. latifolia also can be an indicator of the nutrient balance of a given system, as well as an agent to promote balance through nutrient cycling (Craft, 2007). T. latifolia grew more rapidly in response to increased carbon dioxide, which may indicate some potential for the maintenance of T. latifolia populations to ameliorate climate change, depending on the litter dynamics in a given system (Sullivan et al., 2010).
Uses ListTop of page
Animal feed, fodder, forage
- Landscape improvement
- Wildlife habitat
- Botanical garden/zoo
- Pet/aquarium trade
- Research model
- Sociocultural value
Human food and beverage
- Essential oils
- Poisonous to mammals
- Propagation material
Detection and InspectionTop of page
A survey was conducted among people in the aquatic plant trade in New Zealand (Champion and Clayton, 2001), and in the process provided information on identification so that T. latifolia could be distinguished from the native Typha species, T. orientalis (Champion et al., 2007). In particular,characteristics used to distinguish T. latifolia were: leaf sheaths tapering to lamina, female flower lacking scales, female spike dark brown, male and female spikes of similar lengths, and the grouping of pollen grains in tetrads. The identification utilized literature resources such as Fassett and Calhoun (1952), Aston (1973), Tutin et al. (1980), and Smith (1967a,b). The two species as well as T. laxmannii, another potential invader of New Zealand, are illustrated in Champion et al. (2007).
Similarities to Other Species/ConditionsTop of page
By comparison to T. orientalis (raupo) (native to New Zealand and Australia), the leaves of T. latifolia are broader, flatter and paler, and the flower spark is black-brown in colour compared with the chestnut brown of T. orientalis (Champion et al., 2007).
Prevention and ControlTop of page
Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.
T. latifolia has frequently been planted and/or managed to provide ecosystem services in wetlands to promote wildlife habitat, stabilize shorelines or reduce contaminants or even salinity (Marsh, 1962; Gopal and Sharma, 1980; Bonham, 1983).
Gaps in Knowledge/Research NeedsTop of page
There is a need for further research on management, particularly in areas where it is not-native. Almost no work has been done to examine the potential for biological control. There is also a great need for more work to look at specific impacts T. latifolia has on biodiversity on all levels.
ReferencesTop of page
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23/04/10 Original text by:
David Clements, Biology and Environmental Studies, Trinity Western University, 7600 Glover Road, Langley, British Columbia, V2Y 1Y1, Canada
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