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Common Bulrush

Typha latifolia

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Typhaceae (Bulrush)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
2 metres tall
Bogs, ditches, fens, fields, floodplains, marshes, moorland, mountains, mud, mudflats, ponds, saltmarshes, swamps, water, waterside, wetland.

Brown, no petals
Tiny and densely packed, forming a chocolate-coloured sausage-shaped spike.
Fruits are minute. They are produced from the female flowers and are covered in fluffy down.
Stalkless, long-sheathed, alternate leaves which are mainly produced at the bottom of the stem. Pale blue-green and linear.
Other Names:
Broadleaf Cattail, Candlewick, Cat-o'-nine-tails, Common Cattail, Cooper's Reed, Cumbungi, Giant Reedmace, Great Reedmace, Soft-flag.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Typha latifolia, also known as common cattail or bulrush, is a species of flowering plant in the family Typhaceae. It is native to North America and is commonly found in wetland areas, such as marshes, swamps, and along the edges of ponds and lakes. T. latifolia is a herbaceous perennial that grows to a height of up to 3 meters. It has long, narrow, green leaves and small, brown or green flowers that are surrounded by a dense, sausage-shaped inflorescence. The plant is valued for its medicinal properties and has been used to treat a variety of ailments, including respiratory problems and skin conditions. It is also used as a food source and is an important habitat plant for a variety of wildlife species.


Common Bulrush (Typha latifolia) is a plant species commonly found in wetland habitats such as marshes, swamps, and riverbanks. This species is a part of the Typhaceae family and is widely distributed across the Northern Hemisphere.

Appearance: Common Bulrush is a tall, perennial plant that grows up to 2-4 meters in height. The plant has large, flat leaves that are about 1 meter long and have a glossy green appearance. The leaves grow from the base of the plant and form a dense rosette. The flowers are brown, cylindrical spikes that grow from the top of the stem and are surrounded by dense, papery bracts. The spikes are up to 30 cm long and contain both male and female flowers.

Ecological importance: Common Bulrush plays an important role in the wetland ecosystem as it helps to provide habitat and food for a variety of wildlife species. The leaves and stems provide shelter for small mammals and birds, while the seeds and shoots are an important food source for waterfowl and other birds. This plant also helps to prevent soil erosion and acts as a natural filter, removing excess nutrients and pollutants from the water.

Uses: Common Bulrush has a long history of human use and has been used for a variety of purposes, including as a food source, for medicinal purposes, and for making baskets, mats, and other woven items. The plant's long, strong stems are ideal for weaving and have been used for centuries to make a variety of products. The leaves and shoots are edible and have been used as a food source by indigenous peoples for thousands of years.

Cultivation: Common Bulrush is an easy plant to cultivate and is often used in landscaping and restoration projects. It can be propagated from seed or by division and prefers wet soil and full sun to partial shade. It is also tolerant of a wide range of soils, making it an ideal plant for a variety of wetland habitats.

Invasion of Typha latifolia: Common Bulrush is a highly adaptable plant species and can easily establish itself in new habitats. Unfortunately, this also means that it can become invasive in some areas and displace native plant species. In some cases, the dense stands of Common Bulrush can alter the structure and function of the wetland ecosystem, affecting the diversity of plant and animal species.

Control measures: In areas where Common Bulrush has become invasive, control measures may be necessary. One of the most effective methods is to remove the plant and its root system by hand. This is best done when the plant is young and before it has had a chance to spread and establish itself. Another option is to use a herbicide, although care must be taken to avoid contaminating the surrounding water and soil.

Cultural Significance: Common Bulrush has been an important cultural symbol for many indigenous peoples, who have used it for centuries in a variety of rituals and ceremonies. The plant's strong stems have been used to make baskets and other woven items, while its seeds have been used as a food source. In some cultures, Common Bulrush has been used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments, including skin conditions and respiratory problems.

The significance of Common Bulrush extends beyond just cultural and ecological importance. It is also an important indicator of the health of wetland ecosystems. The presence or absence of Common Bulrush can be used to gauge the quality of the habitat and its ability to support a diversity of plant and animal species.

Sustainable Management: As human populations continue to grow, it is increasingly important to manage and protect wetland ecosystems. This includes the sustainable management of Common Bulrush and other plant species that are important for the health of these ecosystems. By managing the spread of invasive species, preserving wetland habitats, and protecting the cultural significance of these plants, we can ensure that future generations have the opportunity to appreciate and benefit from these valuable resources.

In conclusion, Common Bulrush is a valuable species that plays a critical role in the health of wetland ecosystems and has significant cultural importance. By understanding its ecology, cultural significance, and the need for sustainable management, we can ensure that this plant continues to thrive for generations to come.


Common Bulrush filmed around Lancashire in August 2022.


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Distribution Map

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