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Typha latifolia (Bulrush, Common Bulrush, Broadleaf Cattail, Common Cattail, Great Reedmace, Cooper's reed, Cumbungi) is a perennial herbaceous plant in the genus Typha. It is found as a native species in North and South America, Great Britain, Eurasia and Africa.<ref name=GISD>"Typha latifolia (aquatic plant)", Global Invasive Species Database. Retrieved 2011-02-21.</ref> In Canada, broadleaf cattail occurs in all provinces and the Northwest Territories, and in the United States, it is native to all states except Hawaii.<ref name=FEIS>"Typha latifolia, U.S. Forest Service Fire Effects Information Database", U.S. Forest Service. Retrieved 2011-02-20</ref> The species is non-native, and considered an invasive weed, in Australia and Hawaii.<ref>"Typha latifolia (Typhaceae) Species description or overview", Hawaiian Ecosystems at Risk project (HEAR). Retrieved 2011-02-21.</ref> It is not native but has been reported in Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, and the Philippines.<ref name=GISD />
T. latifolia has been found in a variety of climates, including tropical, subtropical, southern and northern temperate, humid coastal, and dry continental.<ref name=FEIS /> It is found at elevations from sea level to 7,500 feet (2,300 m).
T. latifolia is an "obligate wetland" species, meaning that it is always found in or near water.<ref name=PLANTS>"USDA Plant Guide: Typha latifolia", United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 2011-02-20.</ref> The species generally grows in flooded areas where the water depth does not exceed 2.6 feet (0.8 meters).<ref>"Broadleaf Cattail", Utah State University Cooperative Extension. Retrieved 2011-02-20.</ref> However, it has also been reported growing in floating mats in slightly deeper water.<ref name=FEIS /> T. latifolia grows mostly in fresh water but also occurs in slightly brackish marshes.<ref name=PLANTS /> The species can displace other species native to salt marshes upon reduction in salinity. Under such conditions the plant may be considered invasive, since it interferes with preservation of the salt marsh habitat.<ref name=PLANTS />
T. latifolia shares its range with other related species, and hybridizes with Typha angustifolia, narrow-leaf cattail, to form Typha × glauca (Typha angustifolia × T. latifolia), white cattail.<ref name=FEIS /> Common cattail is usually found in shallower water than narrow-leaf cattail.
The plant is 1.5 to 3 metres (5 to 10 feet) high and it has 2-4cm broad leaves, and will generally grow out in to 0.75 to 1 metre [2 to 3 feet] of water depth.
T. latifolia is called totora, espadaña común, tule espidilla, or piriope in Spanish; roseau des étangs in French; and tabua-larga in Portuguese.<ref name=GISD />
The rhizomes of Typha latifolia were eaten by many first peoples of North America, as well as the leaf bases and young flower spikes. The rhizomes can be consumed after cooking and removing the skin, while the peeled stems and leaf bases can be eaten raw or cooked.<REF NAME="Turner">Turner, Nancy J. Food Plants of Interior First Peoples (Victoria: UBC Press, 1997) ISBN 0-7748-0606-0</REF>
While Typha latifolia grows all over, including in rural areas, it is not advisable to eat specimens deriving from polluted water as it is used as a bioremediator, it absorbs pollutants. Do not eat them if they taste very bitter or spicy.<ref>YouTube - Wild Living with Sunny: episode 4 Video describing collection and cooking of common cattail.</ref>
- USDA TYLA
- ROOK description
- Edibility of Cattail: Edible parts and identification of Typha latifolia.