by Istvan Kadar Photography
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. When ripe the heads disintegrate into dense cottony fluff, from which the seeds disperse by wind.