Plant That Looks Like A Corn Dog

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Typha latifolia

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Corn dogs are a very popular carnival food. But did you know that there is a plant that looks like a corn dog? If you have ever wondered the name of it, it is called a cattail plant.

And they have a trick up their sleeve when you burst one open. Cattail plants are very useful for their environment, and you can also eat them. However, do not eat them like you would a corn dog in a carnival.

Plant That Looks Like A Corn Dog: Are They Real?

Yes, this is a real thing. A plant called cattail looks like a sausage on a stick. It is nature’s prank, and I am all for it. There are tons of interesting things about the cattail plant.

The first is that 5 different types of cattails resemble corn dogs. Yes, you read that right. Not 1, but 5 variants. In my 20 years of gardening experience, the fact that this plant exists has always made me chuckle.

Plant That Looks Like A Corn Dog

Types of Plant That Looks Like A Corn Dog

As if knowing that there is a plant out there that looks like a corn dog was not enough, now you know that there are 5 different types. Here are all the details about each of them:

1. Typha Latifolia

First, there is the Typha Latifolia. Which is just fancy speak for the Common Cattail. The Common Cattail is a semi-aquatic species, and you will mostly find it in southern America.

You can find it in Eurasia and also in parts of Africa as well. During winter and fall, this plant has a lot of rhizomes. If you do not know what rhizomes are, they are underground plant stems. Rhizomes can produce the roots and stems of new plants.

Bursting one open is pretty interesting. I remember how awed I was when I first did it. It still impresses me now even though I have been gardening for so long.

Bursting it in two releases a lot of fluffy seeds. This should immediately tell you that the Common Cattail relies on wind pollination. Pretty interesting stuff.

2. Typha Laxmannii

Next up, there is the Typha Laxmannii. Also known as the Graceful Cattail. It is called the ‘Graceful Cattail’ because of its relatively short size and delicate nature.

While other cattails can grow about 10 feet, the Typha Laxmannii only grows up to 3 feet. The small size of this plant makes it the perfect choice for those who want it for their rain gardens or backyard ponds. This cattail plant is the most popular among the 5 types. 

The stems of this plant have flowers that are close to each other. Moreover, there are male and female flowers. The male ones become yellow-brown, while the female ones are yellow-greenish in color.

It is common to see the male flowers wither when the pollen falls onto the female. Then the female flower matures and turns into an adult cattail. 

These plants can also survive underwater. They have advanced air channels in their stems and leaves called aerenchyma. The aerenchyma can provide oxygen to the root even underwater.

3. Typha Angustifolia

The Typha Angustifolia cattail plant is typically found wherever there is fresh water. So, for example, you will find them in marshes, canals and lakes. They are pretty tall too, growing up to 12 feet.

Another name for Typha Angustifolia is the narrow-leaf cattail. They are quite similar to their counterparts – the common cattail. Looking at the flowers, you can easily differentiate between a common cattail and a narrow-leaf cattail.

As hinted, the flowers of the Typha Angustifolia (narrow-leaf cattail) are narrower, typically between 0.8 to 5 inches. This cattail species is a big contributor to its natural habitat as well.

It allows birds to create nests and also facilitates breeding grounds for fish. Moreover, its clumps protect the animals and aquatic life by giving shade. As if helping its habitat was insufficient, narrow-leaf cattails are very helpful to us too. We use the plant seeds for pillows and mattresses.

4. Typha Minima

This type of cattail usually grows during mid to late spring, summer and fall. Typha Minima is also called the dwarf reed mace. They are a very small species and grow up to only 11 to 12 inches tall.

If the conditions are right, you will see this plant growing in small ponds or tubs. It grows in Europe and Asia.

This type of cattail is pretty easy to grow. However, be careful not to drown it. Since it is so small, it will not survive if more than an inch of water is over its roots. If you plan to add this to your garden, you will like that it does not get bugs.

You will also need to relocate it every 3 to 4 years since it will fill up its container. In addition, you can also use it for pond decoration.

5. Typha Domingensis

The Southern cattail, or the Typha Domingensis are tall and skinny. These plants are effective at removing microbial spoilage from water. Its leaves are a pale yellow-green color.

On each stem, you will see 6 to 9 convex shaped leaves on one side. The Typha Domingensis cattail plant is als a wetland plant. The stems can have both male and female flowers.

The fruit that the female flower extracts have alpha-glucosidase inhibitory potential.

What Happens When You Break Open a Cattail Plant?

Cattail plants have a trick under their sleeves. When you break one open, many fluffy cotton-like substances come gushing out. It is pretty cool to see.

You would not tell that this plant has this much room inside it at first glance. If you have never seen what it looks like to break open a cattail, search for it on YouTube.

But the best would be to experience one yourself. Watching a video is nothing like seeing it happen in front of you. I have been gardening for a lot of years. Yet breaking open a cattail still amazes me.

Do Cattails Help Animals?

Yes, cattails are helpful for animals. Some animals like muskrats, beavers and even some fish species eat cattails for food. Moreover, turtles, frogs, racoons, deer and Redwing blackbirds use cattails for shelter. Birds can even use cattail fluff as raw material for their nests.

Moreover, cattails are not only helpful for animals, but they are very helpful for our environment. Studies have found that cattail plants remove pollution from water and even break down organic materials. They also prevent erosion. For a funny-looking plant, they do a lot.

Can You Eat Cattail?

Cattails are safe to eat since they are not poisonous. However, the poison iris is a very similar-looking plant, except it is not edible. So, you do not want to mistake a poison iris for a cattail.

However, as long as you are sure it is a cattail, you can eat it without problems. As we mentioned before, many animals eat cattails as well. In addition, before you gobble one up, ensure it has no pesticides. Also, here are the parts of the plant you can eat:


Cattail roots are edible. They are best during winter and autumn. You can grill them or boil them till they are soft and tender. In addition, the roots can be used to make flour!

Stalks and Shoots

Cattail stalks and shoots are a treat with peanut butter. They can be harvested during spring. Be sure to clean the shoots and stalks of the cattail before you consume them, though. Taste-wise, they are not bad. They taste a bit like asparagus.


You can eat the catkins after boiling it. Eat it with salt and pepper. Adding peanut butter also helps. It is best to enjoy the catkins in spring while they are still green.


Lastly, you can also eat the pollen. The best part is the pollen has antiseptic properties. You can make delicious pancakes with cattail pollen. And since they are antiseptic, you can also use them for skin care and to prevent anemia.


How to differentiate between cattail and poison iris?

A cattail looks like a corn dog at the top of its head. The poison iris does not. Poison iris is not edible. So, be careful.

Do cattails have other names?

Yes, cattails are called lots of different things around the world. People call them corn dog grass, bullrush, punks and other names.

Can you eat cattail fluff?

Yes, you can eat cattail fluff. However, make sure they are pesticide free and clean. Moreover, do not eat random plants if you are unsure about whether they are edible and safe.

Wrapping Up

If you ever wondered what is that plant that looks like a corn dog, now you know. Cattails are pretty useful, generally.

They are edible and also help their surroundings. However, if you live in Australia, you should not burst them open and spread the pollen and seeds. They are an invasive species in Australia.

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Jack Daniel

I am Jack Daniel, and I have been gardening for more than 20 years now. I believe that with my years of experience, I can help you with backyard ideas and backyard product reviews. So, with the motto to help anyone facing gardening issues or wanting tips on enhancing the beauty of their backyards, I have created Backyard Muse. So, before anything else, I want to welcome you warmly to my site.


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