Common Cattail, cat-o-nine tails, cattail flag, blackamoor, candlewick, water torch, bulrush, punks, corndog grass, reedmace, Cooper’s reed, Cossack asparagus
Description: herbaceous perennial
Place of origin: North and South America, Europe
Urban habitat: commonly found near wetlands, at highway edges, and drainage ditches; tolerant of roadway salt; can tolerate full sun or partial shade.
Ecological function: can be used for bioremediation as it readily absorbs nutrients and toxins; food and habitat for wildlife; stream and river bank stabilization.
History: Typha latifolia has a long history of human use as food and medicine. Native Americans used all parts of the plant to treat wounds, cuts, burns, infections, chafing, abdominal cramps, kidney stones, coughs, cysts, hemorrhaging, diarrhea, yellow fever, gonorrhea, and as a ceremonial medicine. All parts of the plant are edible and many tribes consumed it in a variety of ways, as well as using its leaves, stalks and flowers to make clothing, mats, rugs, baskets, bedding and as a building material for thatched roofs, shingles, and canoes. Its leaves can be used to make paper and the pulp of the plant can be converted into rayon. Cattails are also a potentially good biomass energy source. Its pollen is inflammable and has been used to make fireworks. Common cattail has been imported around the world and is considered invasive in Australia and Hawaii.