Large plant growing 4 to 10 feet tall with leaf blades 1/2 to 1 inches wide. Female flower spike (seedhead) is tightly packed in the shape of a cigar; seedhead is rusty red-brown at maturity; male flower spike sits just above and is touching the female spike.

A marginal plant that may grow out to 4 feet of water. Plants lays dormant in winter, turning brown and dropping leaves, stalks and seeds into the water. Cattails turn open water into marshland and eventually dry land.

They can completely ring the shoreline of a pond in a few years if not controlled. Control is effectively obtained with the use of contact aquatic herbicides.