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Typha leaves are alternate and mostly basal to a simple, jointless stem that eventually bears the flowering spikes. Typha plants are monoecious and bear unisexual, wind-pollinated flowers, developing in dense spikes. The numerous male flowers form a narrow spike at the top of the vertical stem. Each male (staminate) flower is reduced to a pair of stamens and hairs, and withers once the pollen is shed. The very large numbers of tiny female flowers form a dense, sausage-shaped spike on the stem below the male spike — in larger species this can be up to 30 centimetres (12 in) long and 1 to 4 centimetres (0.39 to 1.6 in) thick. Seeds are minute, 0.2 millimetres (0.0079 in) long, and attached to a fine hair. When ripe the heads disintegrate into dense cottony fluff, from which the seeds disperse by wind.
Cattail can be found in riparian locations.
Cattail is a VERY useful plant. It is edible, medicinal and can be used in survival situations. The roots are full of starch which can be ground into a flour after dried. The young shoots are delicious and taste similar to cucumber. The cattail fruit and pollen can be eaten at a young stage. Seed "fluff" can be used for insulation as well as tender for fire. The clear sap can be used medicinally as an antiseptic.