There are several species of cattails and all have flat to slightly rounded leaves that twist slightly over their length and can grow to 5 or 10 feet in height. The leaf blades are 1/4 to 1 inch wide growing in clusters. The flowers, called a catkin, form a dense dark brown, cigar-shape at the end of spikes. Cattails have both male and female flowers on the same plant with the male flower above the female. There are two main species of cattail in Kentucky, the narrow cattail and the broad cattail. In the narrow cattail, the male flower is separated from the female by 1 to 5 inches of stem. In the broad cattail, the male spiker sits just above the female flower and is touching it. Cattails can be partially submerged or in boggy areas with no permanently standing water. The plant can completely ring the shoreline of a pond in a few years if not controlled.
Cattails can be mowed and removed from the pond.
There are no biological control options for cattail.
The active ingredients that have been successful in treating cattail include: Diquat (G), Glyphosphate (E), Imazamox (E) and Imazapyr (E). E = excellent, G = good
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