Bur-reed

Emergent Plants

Spargania americanum:

Bur-reed

Spargania americanum Nutt.: Bur-reed. Sparganiaceae (bur-reed family).

Native perennial. Grows emersed in shallow water, or submersed in deep water, where the leaves float along the surface; water bodies can be still or flowing. Slender rhizomes are produced in the substrate, giving rise to stout stems and spongy foliage resembling cattail. Plants to 24 - 40 in (60 - 100 cm) tall; leaves arise from the base and higher up along the stem, over-topping the stem apex where flowers emerge. Leaves are spongy, long and slender, to 3 ft (90 cm) long and 0.8 in (2 cm) wide. They have a channel running down the middle of the upper surface and a distinct V-shaped keel down the midrib on the underside; cattail and Vallisneria lack this keel. The leaf margins are smooth, without teeth. The upper, flowering, portion of the stem tends to angle back and forth at each flower node, forming a characteristic zig-zag. The shaggy white spherical flowers are set close against the stem. The fruits are also spherical, covered with short, spiky, wedge-shaped nutlets; they look similar to a sweet-gum bur. This plant produces corms. Its thick colonies are useful to wildlife.