Sparganium americanum Nutt.

American bur-reed

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New England Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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North America Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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Facts About

American bur-reed is a common and variable aquatic plant of shorelines and shallow, still or slow-moving water throughout New England. Its seeds are an important food source for water fowl, and the plant is eaten by muscrats.

Habitat

Lacustrine (in lakes or ponds), riverine (in rivers or streams), shores of rivers or lakes

Characteristics

Habitat
  • aquatic
  • wetlands
New England state
  • Connecticut
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
Leaf arrangement
alternate: there is one leaf per node along the stem
Leaf blade shape
the leaf blade is linear (very narrow with more or less parallel sides)
Leaf blade length
Up to 1000 mm
Flower petal color
  • green to brown
  • white
Petal fusion
the perianth parts are separate
Inflorescence type
the flowers grow out of the axil (point where a branch or leaf is attached to the main stem)
Ovary position
the ovary is above the point of petal and/or sepal attachment
Fruit type (specific)
  • the fruit is a drupe (fleshy, with a firm inner ovary wall that encloses a single seed)
  • the fruit is an achene (dry, usually 1-seeded, does not separate or split open at maturity)
Fruit length
3.5–7 mm
Show All Characteristics
  • Clonal plantlets
    Axillary bulblets
    there are no bulblets being produced in axils
  • Flowers
    Anther attachment
    the anther is attached by its base to the filament
    Anther length
    0.8–1.2 mm
    Bulblets replace flowers
    there are no bulblets where the flowers are located
    Carpels fused
    the carpel is solitary or (if 2 or more) the carpels are not fused to one another
    Flower bracts
    there are bracts associated with the flower
    Flower petal color
    • green to brown
    • white
    Flower symmetry
    there are two or more ways to evenly divide the flower (the flower is radially symmetrical)
    Form of style
    the style is narrow at the tip and unbranched
    Fringed petal edges
    the petals are not fringed
    Hairs on flower stalk
    NA
    Inflorescence type
    the flowers grow out of the axil (point where a branch or leaf is attached to the main stem)
    Marks on petals
    there are no noticeable marks on the petals
    Nectar spur
    the flower has no nectar spurs
    Number of carpels
    1
    Number of pistils
    1
    Number of sepals and/or petals
    • there are five petals, sepals or tepals in the flower
    • there are four petals, sepals or tepals in the flower
    • there are six petals, sepals or tepals in the flower
    • there are three petals, sepals or tepals in the flower
    Number of styles
    1
    Ovary position
    the ovary is above the point of petal and/or sepal attachment
    Petal appearance
    the petals are green and/or leafy in texture
    Petal fusion
    the perianth parts are separate
    Sepal appearance
    the sepals resemble leaves in color and texture
    Sepals fused only to sepals
    the sepals are separate from one another
    Spathe
    the plant does not have a spathe
    Spathe form
    NA
    Spathe length
    0 mm
    Stamen number
    • 1 or 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
    • 6
    • 7
    • 8
    Stamen position relative to petals
    NA
    Stamens fused outwards
    the stamens are not fused to the petals or tepals
    Style petal-like
    the style is not broad and flattened like a petal
    Tepals
    the petals and sepals are similar in size and color
  • Fruits or seeds
    Berry color
    NA
    Capsule ridges
    NA
    Fruit beak length
    3–5 mm
    Fruit compartments
    there is only one locule in the fruit
    Fruit cross-section
    the fruit is at least somewhat flattened
    Fruit length
    3.5–7 mm
    Fruit type (general)
    the fruit is dry but does not split open when ripe
    Fruit type (specific)
    • the fruit is a drupe (fleshy, with a firm inner ovary wall that encloses a single seed)
    • the fruit is an achene (dry, usually 1-seeded, does not separate or split open at maturity)
    Other markings on berry
    NA
  • Glands or sap
    Sap
    the sap is clear and watery
  • Growth form
    Lifespan
    the plant lives more than two years
    Root septa
    the roots do not have transverse septa
    Underground organs
    • the plant has a rhizome (a horizontal underground stem with roots growing from it)
    • there are only slender roots on the plant
  • Leaves
    Leaf arrangement
    alternate: there is one leaf per node along the stem
    Leaf blade basal lobes
    the leaf blades do not have basal lobes
    Leaf blade cross-section
    • the leaf blade is U- or V-shaped
    • the leaf blade is more or less flat in cross-section
    Leaf blade faces
    both surfaces of the leaf blade are exposed
    Leaf blade form
    Fully-formed (i.e., expanded), +/- green leaf blades are found somewhere on the plant
    Leaf blade length
    Up to 1000 mm
    Leaf blade shape
    the leaf blade is linear (very narrow with more or less parallel sides)
    Leaf blade surface colors
    the upper side of the leaf blade is relatively uniform in color
    Leaf blade tip
    • the tip of the leaf blade is obtuse (bluntly pointed)
    • the tip of the leaf blade is retuse (blunt or rounded, with a notch at the tip)
    • the tip of the leaf blade is rounded, with no point
    Leaf blade veins
    the lateral veins are parallel or slightly arched in the direction of the tip
    Leaf blade width
    6–12 mm
    Leaf type
    the leaves are simple (lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets
    Leaflet number
    0
    Stipule twining
    NA
    Stipules
    there are no stipules on this plant
  • Place
    Habitat
    • aquatic
    • wetlands
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Maine
    • Massachusetts
    • New Hampshire
    • Rhode Island
    • Vermont
    Specific habitat
    • in lakes or ponds
    • in rivers or streams
    • shores of rivers or lakes
  • Scent
    Plant odor
    the leaves have no particular smell
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Flowering stem growth form
    the flowering stem is held upright
    Flowering stem leaves
    there is at least one fully-formed leaf on the flowering stem
    Stem hairs
    the stem is nearly or completely hairless

Wetland Status

Occurs only in wetlands. (Wetland indicator code: OBL)

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

Connecticut
present
Maine
present
Massachusetts
present
New Hampshire
present
Rhode Island
present
Vermont
present

Conservation Status

Exact status definitions can vary from state to state. For details, please check with your state.

Massachusetts
unranked (S-rank: SNR)

Native to North America?

Yes

Sometimes Confused With

Sparganium emersum:
some of the fruiting spikes borne a short distance above the associated leafy bract (vs. S. americanum, with all of the fruiting spikes borne directly in the axils of the associated leafy bract).

Family

Typhaceae

Genus

Sparganium

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