Cattail fiber

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Broadleaf cattail Typha latifolia


Short, fluffy fibers obtained from the cylindrical flowers of cattail plants, Typha latifolia and Typha augustifolia. Cattails are found in wetlands and swampy areas throughout North America. The cattail fibers are used for filling pillows, upholstery, and life jackets. They provide sound and heat insulation as well as buoyancy. Cattail leaves were also used to make seats for rush-bottomed chairs.

Synonyms and Related Terms

Cattail fiber paper

typha; typhus; bulrush (Br.); bullrush (Br.); reedmace (old Br.); Typha latifolia (broadleaf cattail, common bulrush); Typha augustifolia (Narrowleaf cattail, lesser bulrush); Typha minima (Dwarf bulrush); vezel van de kattenstaart of lisdodde (Typha latifolia) of paardenstaart (genus Equisetum) of doddegras (genus Phleum) of wilgenkatje (Ned);

Physical and Chemical Properties

Fiber length = 25 mm (1 inch). Cross section = round.

Cattail fibers at 200x
Cattail fibers at 200x polarized light

Resources and Citations

  • G.Cook, Handbook of Textile Fibres:I. Natural Fibres, 5th edition, Merrow Publishing Co., Durham, England, 1984.
  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 430
  • Van Nostrand's Scientific Encyclopedia, Douglas M. Considine (ed.), Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 1976
  • Random House, Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Grammercy Book, New York, 1997
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998
  • Wikipedia: Typha. Accessed Oct. 30, 2004