scale bar = 1cm.

Cumbungi - native and introduced (Typha species)

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Narrow-leaf Cumbungi (Typha domingensis) - native

Broad-leaf Cumbungi (Typha orientale) - native

Reedmace (*Typha latifolia) - introduced

Other names: Bulrush.

Family: Typhaceae (Bulrush family).

Occurrence: Cumbungi usually grows in shallow water in dams and reservoirs and along slow-flowing creeks, particularly where the native tree cover has been removed.


It is not always easy to distinguish between the different species. Microscopic details of the flowers are used to separate the species. Other characters can be used, with less certainty.

Name: domingensis: from San Domingo.

Narrow-leaf Cumbungi
Broad-leaf Cumbungi
Reedmace (introduced)
Leaf width
0.5-1.0 (-2.0) cm
0.5-3.0 cm
1-2 cm
Leaf length
2 metres
2 metres
1 metre
Female flower colour
cinnamon brown
chestnut brown
dark brown to red-brown
Female flower width
0.5-2.0 cm
1-3 cm
1.5-2.5 cm
Female flower length
6-20 times width
5-10 times width
10-20 cm
Leaf cross-section
Leaf colour
green to yellowish-green
bluish green
Gap between male and female flowers
2-5 cm
0-2 cm
0-0.5 cm

The female flower-head, when ripe, releases dense white clouds of floating seeds. One head may release 200,000 seeds. The floury underground stems (rhizomes) provided a staple food for the aborigines, and fibres from Cumbungi were used to make string.

Cumbungi often grows with Common Reed (Phragmites australis) which is a grass species, and its flowers form an open spray.

Photo 1: Narrow-leaf Cumbungi (Typha domingensis). Forest Creek.
2: Broad-leaf Cumbungi (T. orientale). Crocodile Reservoir, Fryerstown. The upper male flowers have fallen off.
3: Reedmace (*T. latifolia). McKenzies Hill.