Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Typha x glauca
(hybrid cattail)



Typha x glauca (hybrid cattail)


  • Last modified
  • 22 November 2019
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Typha x glauca
  • Preferred Common Name
  • hybrid cattail
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Monocotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • T.latifolia and T. angustifolia hybridize to form T. x glauca, a highly productive emergent wetland macrophyte. This species spreads prolifically by rhizomes (often 4 m/year) after seedlings establish in d...

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Senesced female spikes of Typha x glauca.
TitleSenesced female spikes
CaptionSenesced female spikes of Typha x glauca.
CopyrightSteven J. Hall
Senesced female spikes of Typha x glauca.
Senesced female spikesSenesced female spikes of Typha x glauca.Steven J. Hall
Typha x glauca invades Carex-dominated vegetation.
TitleInvasive habit
CaptionTypha x glauca invades Carex-dominated vegetation.
CopyrightSteven J. Hall
Typha x glauca invades Carex-dominated vegetation.
Invasive habitTypha x glauca invades Carex-dominated vegetation.Steven J. Hall
Leaves and fallen litter of Typha x glauca
TitleLeaves and fallen litter
CaptionLeaves and fallen litter of Typha x glauca
CopyrightSteven J. Hall
Leaves and fallen litter of Typha x glauca
Leaves and fallen litterLeaves and fallen litter of Typha x glaucaSteven J. Hall
Senesced leaves of Typha x glauca.
TitleSenesced leaves
CaptionSenesced leaves of Typha x glauca.
CopyrightSteven J. Hall
Senesced leaves of Typha x glauca.
Senesced leavesSenesced leaves of Typha x glauca.Steven J. Hall


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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Typha x glauca Godron, 1844

Preferred Common Name

  • hybrid cattail

Other Scientific Names

  • Typha angustifolia x latifolia Kronfeld

International Common Names

  • English: flag; reed-mace
  • Spanish: espadaña; tul; tule
  • French: massette; quenouilles
  • Russian: rogoz

Summary of Invasiveness

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T.latifolia and T. angustifolia hybridize to form T. x glauca, a highly productive emergent wetland macrophyte. This species spreads prolifically by rhizomes (often 4 m/year) after seedlings establish in disturbed vegetation, frequently forming monotypes that reduce wetland plant and animal diversity. T. x glauca thrives under eutrophic conditions and artificially prolonged hydroperiods. In North America, the spread of T. x glauca has closely paralleled the westward advance of T. angustifolia from the east coast. Although T. x glauca is present in both Europe and North America, it appears more invasive in the latter continent. T. x glauca could be economically useful; both parental species were eaten throughout Europe and North America, and leaves were used for weaving. In natural areas, either cutting, burning, or grazing, each followed by flooding, or herbicide, can provide short-term Typha control, but re-growth from rhizomes and a vast soil seed-bank complicate eradication.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Monocotyledonae
  •                     Order: Typhales
  •                         Family: Typhaceae
  •                             Genus: Typha
  •                                 Species: Typha x glauca

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Typha is a cosmopolitan genus of emergent wetland macrophytes, containing 8-13 species, and requiring taxonomic revision (Smith, 1987). Typha spp. often hybridize, perpetuating taxonomic confusion. One hybrid in particular is ecologically important because of its potential invasiveness, and has been frequently treated as Typha x glauca Godr. This taxon is a hybrid between T. latifolia L. and T. angustifolia L. The name T. x glauca has been used in Europe since 1844, although the taxon was recognized in North America as T. latifolia var. elongata (Dudley, 1886, cited in Hotchkiss and Dozier, 1949), and was later renamed T. angustifolia L. var. elongata Dudley. Hotchkiss and Dozier (1949) list other synonyms for T. x glauca, including T. angustifolia x latifolia Kronfeld, T. elongata (Dudley) Kronfeld, T. latifolia x angustifolia Figert, T. angustifolia var. longispicata Peck, and T. elongata (Dudley) Durand & Jackson. Common names often refer to multiple species within the genus, as species are morphologically similar in many respects. T. x glauca is often confused with its parental species.


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T. latifolia, T. angustifolia, and T. x glauca are perennial, rhizomatous, emergent wetland macrophytes. Ramets (culms) range from 1-3 m tall, consisting of slender, linear, distichous leaves with sheathing bases, emerging vertically from a central meristem. Ramets often produce a single erect flowering stem consisting of a staminate spike above a pistillate spike. Rhizomes can measure several centimeters in diameter and produce abundant adventitious roots. Smith (1967) distinguished these three Typha species primarily on the basis of pistillate spike characters. Some quantitative macroscopic characters including spike width, gap between pistillate and staminate spikes, and leaf width are useful, but are too variable for conclusive identification, which depends on microscopic floral characteristics. Leaf width, spike length, spike interval, and stigma width provided only 90% identification accuracy when used together to corroborate specimens identified using molecular data (Kuehn and White, 1999).

The following morphological characters are summarized from Smith (1967, 2000). T. latifolia is characterized by: the absence of pistillate bracteoles; broad stigmas; compound pedicels long, soft, and slender (1.5-3.5 mm, visible after flowers are removed from the spike axis); pistillate spikes green at anthesis, black at maturity; pistil hairs linear, colorless; staminate bracteoles colorless; tetrad pollen. Pistillate and staminate spikes are normally contiguous, and mature pistillate spikes (24-36 mm) and leaves (10-29 mm) are wider than in other species. However, T. x glauca can attain leaf widths similar to T. latifolia (Kuehn et al., 1999), especially in vegetative ramets that grow wider where ramet density is low (S Hall, University of Wisconsin, USA, personal communication, 2008).
T. angustifolia, in contrast, is characterized by: pistillate bracteoles dark to medium brown; narrow stigmas; pistil hairs brown, with enlarged apices, equaling or exceeding bracteoles; compound pedicels short and stiff, somewhat rough to the touch after flowers are removed from the spike axis; pistillate spikes dark brown; staminate bracteoles brown, sometimes bifid; monad pollen. Pistillate and staminate spikes are normally separated by a gap of 1-12 cm, mature pistillate spikes are 10-22 mm wide, and leaves are 4-14 mm wide.
T. x glauca has characters intermediate to its parents: pistillate bracteoles slender, brown-colorless, narrower than stigmas, difficult to distinguish from pistil hairs; pistil hair apices colorless, sometimes with an apical brown cell; narrow, apparently linear stigmas; low seed production; monad, diad, triad, or tetrad pollen. Compound pedicles (0.7-1.3 mm long), leaves (5-19 mm wide), mature pistillate spikes (14-27 mm wide) and the spike gap (4-33 mm long) are all intermediate in measurement to the parental species.

Plant Type

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Grass / sedge
Seed propagated
Vegetatively propagated


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Because T. x glauca is often confused with its parents, adequately assessing its distribution is difficult. T. x glauca may be present throughout the entire sympatric range of its parental species, including most of Europe (Smith, 1987), although it is most frequently reported in North America. One parent, T. latifolia, is native to North America, Eurasia, and parts of Africa, and it appears to have been naturalized in Australia, and perhaps in South America (USDA-ARS, 2008). T. angustifolia appears to have a similar but slightly restricted distribution due to climatic constraints.). Smith (1987) reports that many or all South-American collections of T. angustifolia and T. latifolia (e.g. Crespo and Pérez-Moreau, 1967) may in fact represent other species or hybrids. Typha’s center of endemism is Eurasia (Smith, 1967).

Distribution Table

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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: 17 Dec 2021
Continent/Country/Region Distribution Last Reported Origin First Reported Invasive Reference Notes


GermanyPresentHausdulmener Fischteiche in Northrhine-Westphalia; Original citation: Weyer Kvan de (1996)
-Central RussiaPresentNativeSaratov, Tatarstan
United KingdomPresentNative

North America

CanadaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-New BrunswickPresentInvasive
United StatesPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-New HampshirePresentInvasive
-New JerseyPresentInvasive
-New YorkPresentInvasive
-North CarolinaPresentInvasive
-West VirginiaPresentInvasive

History of Introduction and Spread

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In North America, T. x glauca has expanded westward from the eastern coast along with T. angustifolia, one parental species; the other parent, T. latifolia, appears to have been historically widespread (Hotchkiss and Dozier, 1949). The lack of early colonial records and collections of T. angustifolia prompted speculation that this species had a European origin (Stuckey and Salamon, 1987). Pollen samples, however, indicate that both T. angustifolia and T. x glauca were present in a New York marsh at A.D. 1200 and 800, respectively (Pederson et al., 2005). Regardless of T. angustifolia’s origin, herbarium data from eastern North America suggest that it expanded westward since 1880, reaching the Midwestern United States by the 1920s, and the Great Plains and scattered western states by 1949 (Hotchkiss and Dozier, 1949; Smith, 1967; Galatowitsch et al., 1999; Shih and Finkelstein, 2008). As T. angustifolia expanded, T. x glauca was reported throughout the range of sympatry (Smith 1967). Shih and Finkelstein (2008) contend that T. latifolia has expanded concomitantly with T. angustifolia since the 1930s, but their data (based on herbarium specimen collection frequency) is inconclusive.

Risk of Introduction

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T. angustifolia appears to continue to expand in western North America (Galatowitsch et al., 1999), probably abetted by human-caused disturbance, road construction, and the application of deicing salts (Wilcox, 1982; Grace and Harrison, 1986; Smith, 1987). T. x glauca will likely spread concomitantly with T. angustifolia, since T. latifolia is already widespread. Smith (2000) argues that T. x glauca, and perhaps T. angustifolia, should be classified as noxious weeds in North America, but no such designation has been achieved. The potential for T. x glauca to become invasive on other continents (e.g. Europe, where both parental species are widely distributed) is unknown. Taxonomic confusion could lead to an under-representation of T. x glauca’s distribution, especially in places like Northern Africa, where both parental species are reported to be present. Other aggressive Typha species (e.g. T. domingensis) are likely to be more problematic as invaders in tropical and sub-tropical climates.


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T. x glauca can invade most wetland community types (including marsh, sedge meadow, shrub- carr, fen, lacustrine and riparian wetlands), as well as anthropogenic habitats where soil is periodically flooded (roadside ditches, irrigation canals, stormwater retention basins). T. latifolia is the only Typha species traditionally associated with undisturbed wetlands of Midwestern North America, while T. angustifolia is more prevalent in disturbed, saline, or artificial wetland habitats (Smith, 1967; Grace and Harrison, 1986). T. angustifolia is more tolerant of deeper water (> 15 cm) and saline soil than is T. latifolia, while T. x glauca tolerates a variety of water depths and salinity levels (McMillan, 1959; Grace and Wetzel, 1982). T. x glauca is most prevalent in areas with disturbed vegetation, bare soil, and altered hydroperiods. Typha spp. show a constitutive tolerance for soil and water contaminated by heavy metals (McNaughton et al., 1974).

Habitat List

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BrackishInland saline areas Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ManagedManaged grasslands (grazing systems) Secondary/tolerated habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ManagedDisturbed areas Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ManagedRail / roadsides Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ManagedUrban / peri-urban areas Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalWetlands Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
LittoralCoastal areas Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
LittoralMud flats Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
LittoralIntertidal zone Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
FreshwaterIrrigation channels Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
FreshwaterLakes Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
FreshwaterReservoirs Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
FreshwaterPonds Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
BrackishEstuaries Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
BrackishLagoons Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)

Hosts/Species Affected

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T. angustifolia reduced the growth of mature Bulboschoenus fluviatilis (Torrey) Sojak by producing allelopathic chemicals (Jarchow and Cook, 2009). This mechanism, along with increased competition for light and nutrients, could explain a widespread pattern of reduced wetland plant diversity (including Carex spp., Schoenoplectus spp., and forbs) after T. x glauca invasion (Boers et al., 2007; Frieswyk and Zedler, 2007).

Host Plants and Other Plants Affected

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Plant nameFamilyContextReferences
Carex (sedges)CyperaceaeWild host
Scirpus (bulrush)CyperaceaeWild host

Biology and Ecology

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Chromosome number (2n)=30, corresponding to that of both parents (Smith, 1967). Molecular and morphological characters suggest that T. x glauca is predominantly an F1 hybrid between T. angustifolia and T. latifolia, the former normally acting as the pistillate parent (Smith, 1967; Kuehn et al., 1999). Advanced-generation hybrids and back-crosses have been documented, but have probably been over-reported because of wide morphological variation within F1 hybrids. F2 hybrids have shown developmental problems (Smith, 1967), and isozyme studies (Lee, 1975; Sharitz et al., 1980) do not rigorously document introgression (Kuehn et al. 1999). However, Marburger et al. (2007) have more recent evidence for hybrid swarms, and suggest that pure T. latifolia is in danger of extirpation in some regions. 

Reproductive Biology

T. x glauca is protogynous, self-compatible, and does not show apomixis (Smith, 1967). Pollenrequires strong winds for dispersal, and can travel distances of at least one km. Despite copious pollen production, self-pollination appears to exceed out-crossing even in dense stands (Krattinger, 1975). Seed germination rates vary greatly among populations (McNaughton, 1966; Smith, 1967). T. x glauca pollen is often aborted, and seeds normally have lower viability (0 - 50%) than those from either parental species (Smith, 1967). Plants established from seed can flower by the second year, and each inflorescence can produce 20,000–700,000 fruits (Marsh, 1962; Yeo, 1964). Seeds germinate on moist or submerged soil, promoted by light and hypoxia (Sifton, 1959; Bedish, 1967; van der Valk and Davis, 1978b). In an extreme case, T. latifolia germinated and grew 75 cm to the water surface (Yeo, 1964). When dry and brittle, entire female spikes sometimes fall to the water surface, providing a floating substrate for germination of attached seeds (Hall, 2008). Exposure to light dramatically increases germination, although seeds germinate at low percentages in the dark, especially under fluctuating temperature regimes (Sifton, 1959). Salinity (2% NaCl) can inhibit germination of all three taxa (McMillan, 1959). Seeds rarely germinate under established vegetation, and Typha might produce auto-allelopathic chemicals that inhibit the germination and growth of its own seeds, although data are not conclusive (McNaughton, 1968; Grace, 1983). Typha germinated less (van der Valk and Davis, 1976) and produced less biomass (Hall, 2008) in its own soil relative to soil dominated by other wetland plants. In natural areas not disturbed by humans, disturbance and herbivory by Ondatra zibethicus (muskrats) and Branta canadensis (geese) could facilitate seedling establishment (Svengsouk and Mitsch, 2001).

Lateral rhizomes facilitate rapid vegetative expansion after seedling establishment. Individual T. latifolia clones can span > 60 m (Krattinger, 1983), and T. x glauca has been documented to spread laterally at 1 - 8 m/year (McDonald, 1951; Boers, 2006; Hall, 2008).         

Physiology and Phenology

Phenology shows ecotypic variation, and northern populations flower earlier than southern counterparts (McNaughton, 1966). T. angustifolia generally flowers earlier than T. latifolia (Grace and Harrison, 1986). In Wisconsin, USA, leaves of T. x glauca begin growing in April, flowers become fertile throughout July and August, and leaves senesce in August and September. Hibernating buds produced in the fall rapidly emerge in spring, fuelled by a rhizome carbohydrate subsidy (Gustafson, 1976; Linde et al., 1976; Fiala, 1978). Grace and Harrison (1986) contend that high rhizome carbohydrate supplies promote ramets to flower rather than to remain vegetative, but drought stress could also promote flowering (Hall, 2008). T. latifolia attains maximum leaf biomass in late summer, when rhizome biomass is lowest. By autumn, leaf carbohydrates have been translocated to rhizomes, and rhizome carbohydrate storage is maximized (Gustafson, 1976; Linde et al., 1976). A monotype of Typha spp. produced 700 kg/ha dry matter of biomass (Apfelbaum, 1985), and production has ranged from 1000-2300 g/m2/year (van der Valk and Davis 1978a). Rhizomes in T. latifolia die after producing flowering ramets, but survive in T. angustifolia (Grace and Harrison, 1986). T. latifolia formed most new ramets during summer, whereas T. angustifolia formed most new ramets (hibernating buds) in autumn in a Czech marsh (Fiala, 1978). T. latifolia allocates more biomass to leaves and lateral rhizomes, while T. angustifolia invests more biomass in sexual reproduction and rhizome storage (Grace and Harrison, 1986). T. x glauca uses both of these strategies and produces greater ramet density than either parent (Marsh, 1962). Leaves contain aerenchyma cells that conduct oxygen to underwater tissues, when flooded (Sale and Wetzel, 1983). 


T. x glauca thrives under high nutrient loads, although the relative importance of nitrogen and phosphorus is unclear. Experimental nutrient additions doubled the growth of T. latifolia and T. x glauca, while co-occuring sedges (Schoenoplectus and Carex spp.) did not immediately respond (Svengsouk and Mitsch, 2001; Woo and Zedler, 2002). T. latifolia, however, did not reduce Carex stricta Lam. when grown under high nutrient levels in microcosms (Wetzel and van der Valk, 1998), and when fertilized with nitrogen alone, T. x glauca did not suppress other plants in a short-duration mesocosm experiment (Green and Galatowitsch, 2001). Nitrogen and phosphorus appeared to co-limit T. latifolia when it was grown in mesocosms, whereas in the field, T. latifolia increased along a gradient of increasing phosphorus (Svengsouk and Mitsch, 2001). T. x glauca required both nitrogen and phosphorus for growth in a greenhouse experiment, but adding a higher proportion of phosphorus stimulated growth regardless of nutrient concentration (Woo and Zedler, 2002). Prolonged flooding appeared to increase phosphorus availability and stimulate growth of T. x glauca through the process of “internal eutrophication” (Boers and Zedler, 2008). This mechanism could explain the frequent correlation between prolonged hydroperiods and Typha expansion (Wilcox et al., 1985; Boers et al., 2007). Expansion of the congener T. domingensis correlated with increased phosphorus, and phosphorus appeared to limit growth at a variety of field sites across Florida and the Yucatán peninsula (Koch and Reddy, 1992; Urban et al., 1993; Rejmankova et al., 1996). 


In undisturbed North American wetlands, T. latifolia often grows sparsely with sedges (Carex spp. and Schoenoplectus spp.), rushes (Juncus spp. and Eleocharis spp.), shrubs (Cornus spp. and Salix spp.) and forbs (Curtis, 1959). In disturbed and eutrophic wetlands, T. x glauca tends to form monotypes that replace these species, including its parents, while yielding to the invasive grass Phalaris arundinacea L. in drier areas. However, T. x glauca’s invasive growth may be dependent on eutrophic conditions and altered hydroperiods. In a nutrient-poor groundwater-fed fen, T. x glauca spread over a 20-year period but remained sparse, and never dominated the highly diverse plant community (Q Carpenter, University of Wisconsin, USA, personal communication, 2008).
Environmental Requirements

T. latifolia tolerates an extremely broad climatic spectrum, surviving winter minimums of -34°C in central Alaska as well as thriving in the tropics, and ranging in altitude from sea level to 2000 m (Smith, 1967; Grace and Harrison, 1986). T. angustifolia and T. x glauca, in contrast, might be limited where minimum temperatures are less than -13°C, but they can occupy a similar altitudinal range (0-1800 m). T. latifolia and T. angustifolia are more competitive in shallow < 15 cm) and deeper water, respectively (Grace and Wetzel, 1982), while T. x glauca appears to tolerate widely variable hydroperiods (Frieswyk and Zedler, 2007). T. x glauca can produce rhizomes extending 1 - 2 m below the soil surface, a trait that could increase drought tolerance (SG Smith, University of Wisconsin, USA, personal communication). T. x glauca also survives prolonged inundation. In a marsh flooded under 60 cm of water for 5 years, T. x glauca expanded while T. latifolia decreased (Harris and Marshall, 1963). Seedlings can tolerate anaerobic conditions. Mature plants, however, are intolerant of anaerobic conditions created when leaves are severed below water (Sale and Wetzel, 1983).


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BS - Steppe climate Tolerated > 430mm and < 860mm annual precipitation
C - Temperate/Mesothermal climate Preferred Average temp. of coldest month > 0°C and < 18°C, mean warmest month > 10°C
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)
Ds - Continental climate with dry summer Preferred Continental climate with dry summer (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, dry summers)

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC) -13 0

Rainfall Regime

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Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • impeded
  • seasonally waterlogged

Soil reaction

  • acid
  • alkaline
  • neutral

Soil texture

  • heavy
  • light
  • medium

Special soil tolerances

  • infertile
  • saline
  • shallow
  • sodic

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Archips Herbivore Plants|Inflorescence not specific Grace and Harrison (1986)
Bellura obliqua Herbivore Plants|Leaves; Plants|Stems not specific Grace and Harrison (1986)
Calendra pertinax Herbivore Plants|Growing point not specific Grace and Harrison (1986)
Dicymolomia julianalis Herbivore Plants|Inflorescence not specific Grace and Harrison (1986)
Nonagria Herbivore Plants|Leaves; Plants|Stems not specific Grace and Harrison (1986)

Notes on Natural Enemies

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A variety of insects feed on Typha. Lepidopteran larvae often inhabit inflorescences, while noctuid caterpillars and coleoptera attack leaves, stalks, and sometimes rhizomes (Grace and Harrison, 1986). Muskrats (Ondatra zibethicus) can eliminate entire stands of Typha through herbivory (Kadlec et al., 2007).

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Natural Dispersal (Non-Biotic)

’s tiny seeds (1-2 mm long) are contained in fruits attached to pistil hairs, and are often dispersed by the wind. Spikes do not shed fruits until they have dried (Krattinger, 1975), often delaying dispersal until many months after seed maturation. The entire spike sometimes collapses in place. The spread of T. angustifolia might have been facilitated by highway construction, since the species thrives in roadside ditches (Grace and Harrison, 1986) and could rapidly colonize this continuous habitat by wind dispersal. New clones can also establish from rhizome fragments carried by water currents.  

Vector Transmission (Biotic)

When the fruit is moistened it releases the seed, which has a pointed end that can become embedded in fish scales (Krattinger, 1975). Also, pistil hairs (with attached fruits) adhere to the clothing of fieldworkers, and could attach to animals as well (S Hall, University of Wisconsin, USA, personal communication, 2008). Mud with embedded seeds readily sticks to humans, livestock, birds, and agricultural implements (Parsons and Cuthbertson, 1992).  

Accidental Introduction

. latifolia, appears to have been introduced to Australia (Finlayson et al., 1983), while T. latifolia and T. angustifolia might have been introduced to South America (USDA-ARS, 2008). Introductions of T. x glauca outside North America and Europe have not been documented 

Intentional Introduction

Indigenous people in the Northwestern United States propagated T. latifolia using rhizome fragments (Turner and Peacock, 2005). T. latifolia (and perhaps T. angustifolia) are planted in landscaped ponds and water treatment wetlands, where they have an opportunity to hybridize (Boers et al., 2007), but there are no reports of intentionally created hybrids.


Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
DisturbanceSeedlings establish in disturbed vegetation Yes Grace and Harrison (1986)
HitchhikerFruits and hairs attach to humans, animals and farm implements Yes Parsons and Cuthbertson (1992)
Interbasin transfersMasses of fruits and hairs or rhizome fragments disperse with water currents Yes Grace and Harrison (1986); Parsons and Cuthbertson (1992)
Interconnected waterwaysMasses of fruits and hairs or rhizome fragments disperse with water currents Yes Grace and Harrison (1986); Parsons and Cuthbertson (1992)
Landscape improvementIn North America, Typha spp. are planted in constructed wetlands, or they readily colonize these hab Yes Boers et al. (2007)
Ornamental purposesInflorescences are sold as decorative objests Yes Yes Morton (1975)
Self-propelledFruits disperse with the wind Yes Grace and Harrison (1986)

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Clothing, footwear and possessionsFruits with hairs Yes Parsons and Cuthbertson (1992)
Floating vegetation and debrisRhizome fragments Yes Grace and Harrison (1986)
Host and vector organismsTypha's fruits can adhere to fish scales Yes Krattinger (1975)
WaterFruits, rhizomes Yes Parsons and Cuthbertson (1992)
WindFruits with hairs Yes Yes Krattinger (1975)

Impact Summary

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Economic/livelihood Negative
Environment (generally) Negative

Economic Impact

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Dense T. x glauca monotypes decrease the abundance of some economically important waterfowl species, while they benefit the red-winged blackbird Agelaius phoeniceus, a crop predator (Linz et al., 1996; Leitch et al., 1997).

Environmental Impact

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Impact on Habitats

In arid climates Typha spp. can deplete water supplies through excessive evapotranspiration (Morton, 1975). T. x glauca appears to alter soil microbial community structure, leading to increased nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations and lower water quality (Angeloni et al., 2006). T. x glauca appears to dramatically increase primary productivity and organic matter accumulation relative to the shorter-statured graminoids that it typically replaces (Woo and Zedler, 2002; Angeloni et al., 2006).

Impact on Biodiversity

. x glauca can reduce diversity of plants, insects, and birds by forming dense, monotypic stands in natural wetland communities. Plant species richness declined precipitously as T. x glauca cover increased in wetlands of the Midwestern United States, including Great Lakes estuaries, constructed wetlands, sedge meadows, and marshes (Frieswyk and Zedler, 2006; Boers et al., 2007; Hall, 2008). Depletion of seed bank diversity after T. x glauca invasion suggests a loss of resilience (Frieswyk and Zedler, 2006). Dense cover by T. x glauca also reduces invertebrate density and waterfowl habitat (Linz et al., 1999).


Social Impact

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Typha invasion reduces opportunities for waterfowl hunting and viewing, and decreases the aesthetic value of natural areas by lowering biodiversity.

Risk and Impact Factors

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  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Is a habitat generalist
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Highly mobile locally
  • Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
  • Long lived
  • Fast growing
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
  • Reproduces asexually
  • Has high genetic variability
Impact outcomes
  • Altered trophic level
  • Changed gene pool/ selective loss of genotypes
  • Damaged ecosystem services
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Modification of hydrology
  • Modification of natural benthic communities
  • Modification of nutrient regime
  • Modification of successional patterns
  • Monoculture formation
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
  • Reduced amenity values
  • Reduced native biodiversity
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
Impact mechanisms
  • Allelopathic
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Competition - shading
  • Hybridization
  • Rapid growth
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant
  • Difficult to identify/detect in the field
  • Difficult/costly to control


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Economic Value

. latifolia and T. angustifolia leaves are used for weaving, and most parts of the plant (rhizomes, buds, young shoots, female inflorescences, seeds, and pollen) were eaten by indigenous Americans and Europeans (Morton, 1975). Rhizomes contain up to 80% starch by dry weight, and pollen is protein-rich. Presumably, T. x glauca has similar potential uses. However, several cases of poisoning have been attributed to T. angustifolia and T. latifolia, and the congener T. domingensis produces a toxic oil Typha should not be harvested for food where water is contaminated, due to Typha’s propensity to accumulate heavy metals and other toxins. High productivity and resilience to harvest make T. x glauca an attractive species for biofuel production (Garver et al., 1988).

Social Benefit

. x glauca could provide valuable food, raw materials, wastewater treatment, and industrial-site remediation.

Environmental Services

spp. can improve water quality in wetlands managed for wastewater treatment, by increasing denitrification (Bachand and Horne, 2000; Martin et al., 2003). Periodic leaf harvesting can remove accumulated nitrogen and phosphorus (Toet et al., 2005). It is unclear, however, if Typha spp. improves water quality more than other wetland plants. T. x glauca actually increased sediment nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations when it invaded a freshwater marsh (Angeloni et al., 2006). T. x glauca might be most appropriate for remediating industrial sites, because of T. latifolia’s constitutive high tolerance to heavy metals (McNaughton et al., 1974).


Uses List

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Animal feed, fodder, forage

  • Fodder/animal feed
  • Forage


  • Ornamental


  • Sociocultural value

Human food and beverage

  • Emergency (famine) food
  • Flour/starch
  • Food additive
  • Seeds
  • Vegetable


  • Alcohol
  • Baskets
  • Fibre

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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T. domingensis is often sympatric with the parental species T. latifolia and T. angustifolia, and shares many characters with T. angustifolia (short, stiff compound pedicels, linear stigmas, presence of pistillate bracteoles, monad pollen). See Description section for characteristics of parent and hybrid. T. domingensis is distinguished by: light brown pistillate bracteoles similar in length to pistil hairs; normally colourless pistil hair apices; light-brown to cinnamon-coloured pistillate spike at anthesis, darkening slightly at maturity; leaf sheathes and adjacent blades with mucilage glands on the adaxial surface. Leaves are 7-18 mm wide, mature pistillate spikes are 13-26 mm wide, and the pistillate and staminate spikes are separated by 0-8 cm.

Prevention and Control

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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.


Prevention is difficult given Typha’s prolific seed production. Reducing anthropogenic disturbance of soil and vegetation could reduce establishment, but disturbance by animals can still create germination sites, even in protected wetlands. Maintaining natural hydrology and reducing nutrient loads could reduce the density and spread of T. x glauca after its establishment (Boers, 2006). Maintaining consistently high water levels (> 1.2 m) in managed wetlands could prevent establishment from seed (Ivens, 1967). 


Most management of T. x glauca has focused on periodic density reductions to benefit waterfowl, rather than on permanent eradication (Apfelbaum, 1985). Seed banks often contain hundreds of viable seeds/m2 (van der Valk and Davis, 1978b). Eradication would require yearly surveillance to kill new clones as they establish. Targeting T. angustfolia would reduce the spread of T. x glauca, but T. latifolia is normally a desirable component of North American wetlands. 


Physical/mechanical control

Burning, cutting, and grazing often reduce Typha spp. when followed by flooding. These methods remove leaf tissue that Typha requires to transport oxygen to underwater rhizomes. Deprived of oxygen, Typha respires anaerobically and accumulates ethanol as a toxic byproduct, causing mortality (Sale and Wetzel, 1983). High water levels are necessary to maintain Typha in an anaerobic environment after it re-sprouts. Water depths sufficient for complete mortality of Typha spp. after cutting have ranged from 26-80 cm, and experiments where water levels varied spatially showed increased re-growth in shallow water relative to deeper water (Shekhov, 1974; Beule and Hine, 1979; Murkin and Ward, 1980; Mallik and Wein, 1985; Ball, 1990). Cutting Typha while ramets are flowering and rhizome carbohydrate reserves are low reduces re-growth (Linde et al., 1976; Singh et al., 1976). Fires in flooded wetlands do not normally reduce Typha, probably because underwater leaf tissue is not damaged (Mallik and Wein, 1985; Grieco et al., 2005; Lee et al., 2005). In drained wetlands, fire can sometimes reduce Typha by damaging rhizomes directly (Mallik and Wein, 1985). Soil-burning fires can benefit Typha by increasing nutrient availability (Newman et al., 1998; Smith and Newman, 2001), but post-fire nutrient pulses might only increase growth temporarily (Ponzio et al., 2004). Successive water-level drawdowns could favour sedges (e.g. Eleocharis spp.) over Typha, as occurred in a T. domingensis marsh in Brazil (Palma-Silva et al., 2005). Draining and bulldozing provides destructive but effective control (Parsons and Cuthbertson, 1992). Sheep grazing decreased T. domingensis density in the soil seed bank (Nicol et al. 2007). 

Biological control

Muskrats can decimate Typha (Kadlec et al., 2007), and herbivory by waterfowl and muskrats appears to increase following fire (Smith and Kadlec, 1985b). 

Chemical control

Many herbicides reduce Typha in the short-term, including glyphosate, amitrole-T, amino-triazole, or MCPA (Annen, 2007). These are effectively applied during flowering or when leaves begin to senesce (Beule and Hine 1979; Apfelbaum, 1985).

Control by utilization

Harvesting Typha leaves can reduce re-growth, if followed by flooding. 

Monitoring and Surveillance

Dense Typha monotypes are visible on aerial photos and their expansion can be tracked over time (Boers, 2006; Frieswyk and Zedler, 2007; Hall, 2008).

Ecosystem Restoration

Restoring natural hydrology, preventing prolonged flooding, and reducing nutrient loads should minimize Typha’s spread and ameliorate effects on diversity. In low-nutrient fens fed by groundwater, T. x glauca does not dominate or reduce plant diversity (Q Carpenter, University of Wisconsin, USA, personal communication, 2008).

Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs

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The relative invasiveness of T. latifolia, T. angustifolia, and T. x glauca are often debated. Some argue that both parental species are invasive (Shih and Finkelstein, 2008). Other research suggests that T. latifolia is benign, and that T. x glauca is replacing its parental genotypes as well as other wetland species (Smith, 1987; Frieswyk and Zedler, 2007; Marburger et al., 2007). Mis-identifications could contribute to the debate over the relative invasiveness of T. latifolia versus T. x glauca. To what extent nitrogen and phosphorus limit growth is still unclear. Also, it is unclear what factors constrain the restoration of diverse wetland communities from T. x glauca monotypes (Boers et al., 2007; Hall, 2008).


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Distribution References

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Lousley J E, Tutin T G, 1947. Typha angustifolia x latifolia L. Report of the Botanical Society and Exchange Club. 173-174.

Luther H, 1947. Typha angustifolia X latifolia L. (T. x glauca Godr.) of eastern Fennoskandinavia. (Typha angustifolia X latifolia L. (T. x glauca Godr.) Ostfennoskandien). Memoranda Societatis Flora et Fauna Fennica. 66-75.

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Oostroom S J van, Reichgelt T J, 1962. Typha angustifolia L. X T. latifolia L. in Netherland. Gorteria. 90-92.

Papchenkov V G, 1993. On the new and rare species of the Tatarstan flora. Botanicheskiĭ Zhurnal. 78 (9), 73-79.

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30/04/08 Original text by:

Steven Hall, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA

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