We have noticed that many wetlands in our area that have cattail reeds are...

Asked May 28, 2015, 4:25 PM EDT

We have noticed that many wetlands in our area that have cattail reeds are brown and no evidence of green shoots as there has been in the past. We wondered if this is a natural cycle or perhaps diminishing water levels that would account for this. We do not believe that any toxicity is involved, as other flora are growing. Thanks.

Washington County Minnesota wetland plants

1 Response

Thank you for the question. Unfortunately, I don't have a definite answer for you. Generally, cattails cause problems with their overabundance rather than the situation you describe. From what I have read, cattails can be killed if they are flooded by several feet of water and perhaps that happened last season. This technique can be used to control their spread. They grow best in very moist to wet soils, as long as the depth doesn't exceed 2.5 feet.

Cattails can be so invasive that management of cattail stands is needed to keep them from overtaking the wetland. It's possible that your city is engaged in such management.

Here are a few publications discussing cattails:




Thank you for contacting Extension.