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Typha

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(Redirected from Cattail)
Typha
Missing image
Typha_flwrs.jpg



Mature male flower spike of Typha latifolia;
female flower spike beneath it is
still green (immature)
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Plantae
Division:Magnoliophyta
Class:Liliopsida
Order:Poales
Family:Typhaceae
Genus:Typha
Species

See text

Typha is a genus of about ten species of monocotyledonous flowering plants in the monogeneric family, Typhaceae. The genus has a largely Northern Hemisphere distribution, but is essentially cosmopolitan. These plants are known as bulrush or bullrush (mainly in British English), cattail (mainly in American English), or in some older British texts as reedmace.

Missing image
Cattail.jpg
Typha plants at the edge of a small lake

Cattails or bulrushes are wetland plants, typically 1 to 3 m tall (T. minima is smaller: 0.5-1 m), with spongy, strap-like leaves and starchy, creeping stems (rhizomes). The leaves are alternate and mostly basal to a simple, jointless stem that eventually bears the flowers. The rhizomes spread horizontally beneath the surface of muddy ground to start new upright growth, and the spread of cattails is an important part of the process of open water bodies being converted to vegetated marshland and eventually dry land.

Typha plants are monoecious, wind-pollinated, and bear unisexual flowers developing in dense, complex spikes. The male flower spike develops at the top of the vertical stem, above the female flower spike (see figure below). The male (staminate) flowers are reduced to a pair of stamens and hairs and wither once the pollen is shed, leaving a short, bare stem portion above the female inflorescence. The dense cluster of female flowers forms a cylindrical spike some 10 to as much as 40 cm long and 1 to 4 cm broad. Seeds are minute (about 0.2 mm long), and attached to a thin hair or stalk, which effects wind dispersal. Typha are often among the first wetland plants to colonise areas of newly exposed wet mud.

Species

  • Typha angustifolia - Lesser Bulrush or Narrow Leaf Cattail
  • Typha domingensis - Southern Cattail
  • Typha latifolia - Common Bulrush or Common Cattail
  • Typha laxmannii - Laxman's Bulrush
  • Typha minima - Dwarf Bulrush
  • Typha shuttleworthii - Shuttleworth's Bulrush

The most widespread species is Typha latifolia, extending across the entire temperate Northern Hemisphere. T. angustifolia is nearly as widespread, but does not extend so far north. T. domingensis is a more southerly American species, extending from the US to South America, while T. laxmannii, T. minima and T. shuttleworthii are largely restricted to Asia and parts of southern Europe.

Typha plants grow along lake margins and in marshes, often in dense colonies, and are sometimes considered a weed in managed wetlands. The plant's root systems help prevent erosion, and the plants themselves are often home to many insects, birds and amphibians.

The rhizomes are a palatable, nutritious and productive root vegetable, generally harvested in the fall and winter. The pollen is also sometimes used as a flour supplement, and the young green flowering stalks can be boiled and eaten like sweetcorn.

In North America, the native cattails are increasingly being supplanted by the invasive purple loosestrife Lythrum salicaria.da:Dunhammer-familien (Typhaceae) de:Rohrkolbengewächse eo:Tifao fr:Typhaceae nl:Grote Lisdodde pl:Pałka

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