Typhaceae - cat-tail family
Species that grow without cultivation on Mount Desert Island

compiled by the
Champlain Project - P. O. Box 55 - Bass Harbor, Maine  04653

(updated 12 August 2018)

Typhaceae - cat-tail family

Mount Desert Island is home to 7 species in 2 genera. Click on a link below or scroll down for more information.
   Sparganium (5 species)
      Sparganium americanum - American bur-reed (occasional1)
      Sparganium angustifolium - narrow-leaved bur-reed (occasional)
      Sparganium emersum - simple-stemmed bur-reed (uncommon)
      Sparganium fluctuans - floating bur-reed (occasional)
      Sparganium natans - arctic bur-reed (uncommon)
   Typha (2 species)
      Typha angustifolia - narrow-leaved cat-tail (rare)
      Typha latifolia - broad-leaved cat-tail (occasional)

Sparganium (bur-reed)
[information to be added]

Sparganium americium (American bur-reed) - [information to be added]

Sparganium angustifolium (narrow-leaved bur-reed) - [information to be added]

Sparganium emersum (simple-stemmed bur-reed) - [information to be added]

Sparganium fluctuans (floating bur-reed) - [information to be added]

Sparganium nations (arctic bur-reed) - [information to be added]

Typha (cat-tail)
The staminate (i.e., pollen bearing) flowers grow together as a unit above the carpellate (i.e., seed bearing) flowers, which also grow together. According to volume 1 of Ancestral Plants2, before the staminate flowers and carpellate flowers are fully mature, they can be eaten raw or boiled and eaten like an ear of corn. (Because of the rarity of Typha anguvstifolia, be sure to confine foraging to the common Typha latifolia.) The previous year’s carpellate flowers appear as tan-colored “fluff”.

leaf width separation between staminate and carpellate flowers
Typha angustifolia 5–11 mm present
Typha latifolia 10–23 mm absent

Typha angustifolia (narrow-leaved cat-tail) - [information to be added]
The leaves of this plant are approximately 0.9 mm wide. Note the clear separation between the staminate flowers and the carpellate flowers (image below right).
(click on an image to enlarge)

Typha latifolia (broad-leaved cat-tail) - [information to be added]
(click on an image to enlarge)

   1Frequency designation is from Mittelhauser, Glen H., Linda L. Gregory, Sally C. Rooney, and Jill E. Webber. 2010. The Plants of Acadia National Park. Orono, Maine: The University of Maine Press.
   2Ancestral Plants, volume 1 (ISBN 978-0-9842945-0-3) by Arthur Haines, published in 2010.