Investigating Invasive Cattails

Scientist is surrounded by invasive cattails.
A wetland scientist investigates hybrid cattails at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

Typha is the scientific name, or genus, of all the cattail species found in wetlands of the world.Worldwide, there are about 30 species of cattails.In North America, there are three species: broadleaf cattail (T. latifolia), narrowleaf cattail (T. angustifolia), and southern cattail (T. domingensis). Broadleaf and southern cattails are considered to be native to North America.Narrowleaf cattail is considered non-native, and was likely introduced to the east coast of the United States and Canada from Europe during the mid1800s. Though it is non-native, narrowleaf cattail has not shown invasive characteristics.

A new taxon of cattail has developed as a result of hybridization of at least two of the three species, T. latifolia and T. angustifolia.This taxon is called Typha x glauca , and it is invasive in nature.Scientists and student interns have conducted research to assess cattail populations in national parks in the Great Lakes region.Their results have yielded important information for park managers.Investigations continue, and today there are opportunities for volunteers and citizen scientists to help.

Read more about managing invasive plants

Last updated: September 15, 2023