Any of the tall reedy marsh plants (see reed) that bear brown, furry fruiting spikes and make up the genus Typha (family Typhaceae), particularly T. latifolia, the long flat leaves of which are used especially for making mats and chair seats. Cattails are found mainly in temperate and cold regions of the Northern and Southern hemispheres. Important to wildlife, they are also often cultivated ornamentally as pond plants and for dried-flower arrangements. The leaves, which swell when wet, are used for caulking cracks in barrels and boats.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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