There are two species of cattail in our area, narrow-leaved cattail and common cattail, as well as a hybrid. Narrow-leaved cattail leaves are typically 1/4 to 1/2 inch wide; common cattail leaves are typically twice as wide (1/2 to 1 inch). Another distinguishing feature is the distance between the female flowers (the cattail) and male flowers. On narrow-leaved cattail, there is a gap of 1/2 to 5 inches between female and male flowers (see the second photo below). Common cattail generally has no gap or only a small gap between female and male flowers. However, identification can be tricky because of hybrids, which are intermediate and rather variable.
- Family: cattail (Typhaceae)
- Habitat: marshes, especially brackish marshes
- Height: 3-6 feet
- Flower size: tiny flowers in a cylindrical head around 1/2 inch across
- Flower color: brown
- Flowering time: May to July
- Origin: Europe and North America, though not native to Connecticut