Branched bur-reed (Sparganium erectum)

loading
Female branched bur-reed flowers
loading
Loading more images and videos...

Branched bur-reed fact file

Branched bur-reed description

KingdomPlantae
PhylumAnthophyta
ClassLiliopsida
OrderTyphales
FamilySparganiaceae
GenusSparganium (1)

Branched bur-reed is an aquatic emergent plant that grows rooted in the mud at the margins of waterbodies (4). The narrow, smooth and keeled leaves are erect and triangular in cross-section (2). The globular flowers are produced on a branching spike hence the name ‘branched’ bur-reed. Flowers at the tip of the spike are male whereas those further down are female (4). The female flowers take on a bur-like appearance before breaking up into distinct fruits (5). The fruits are small, dry and spongy and contain 1-2 seeds (4).

Size
Leaf width: 10 - 15 mm (2)
Height: 50 - 150 cm (2)
Top

Branched bur-reed biology

Branched bur-reed is a perennial species that flowers from June to August (1). The leaves arise from rhizomes and die back at the end of each year (4). Although insects do visit the flowers, they are only attracted to male flowers, and so pollination by insects is not important. Pollination is mainly by wind, although self-fertilisation may occur. The fruits can float for a number of months, which aids in their dispersal. They germinate under water, but seedling survival is poor. The plants can also spread (by vegetative reproduction) from the rhizomes (6).

Top

Branched bur-reed range

This native bur-reed is widespread throughout Britain, reaching altitudes of 425 m (3). It is absent from Shetland (2). It is also found in most northern temperate areas of the world (2), but is absent from eastern North America (3).

You can view distribution information for this species at the National Biodiversity Network Gateway.
Top

Branched bur-reed habitat

Typically found growing in a narrow band at the margins of lakes, rivers, streams, ditches and canals. Occasionally, large clumps of branched bur-reed may occur in swampy habitats. Cattle graze on this species, and so it is unusual to find branched bur-reed on banks where livestock graze (3).

Top

Branched bur-reed status

Common and widespread: not threatened (3).

Top

Branched bur-reed threats

This species is not threatened.

Top

Branched bur-reed conservation

Conservation action is not required for this common species.

There may be further information about this species available via the National Biodiversity Network Gateway.
Top

Find out more

For more on British native plants and for details of how to get involved in plant conservation, visit the website of Plantlife the wild plant charity:
www.plantlife.org.uk

Top

Authentication

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:
arkive@wildscreen.org.uk

Top

Glossary

Perennial
Plants that live for at least three seasons; after an initial period they produce flowers once a year.
Rhizomes
Rhizomes are thickened, branching, creeping storage stems. Although most rhizomes grow laterally just along or slightly below the soil's surface, some grow several inches deep. Roots grow from the underside of the rhizome, and during the growing season new growth sprouts from buds along the top. A familiar rhizome is the ginger used in cooking.
Vegetative reproduction (or propagation)
Type of asexual reproduction (reproduction without recombination of genetic material) that results in the propagation of plants using only the vegetative tissues such as leaves or stems. The resulting plant is genetically identical to the original plant. A well-known example of this is the reproduction of strawberry plants from ‘runners’.
Top

References

  1. National Biodiversity Network Species Dictionary (September 2003):
    http://www.nhm.ac.uk/nbn/
  2. Clapham, A.R., Tutin, T.G., and Moore, D.M. (1987) Flora of the British Isles 3rd Edition. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  3. Preston, C.D., Pearman, D.A. and Dines, T.D. (2002) New Atlas of the British and Irish Flora. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  4. Stace, C. (1991) New Flora of the British Isles. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  5. Habitas.org (December 2003):
    http://www.habitas.org.uk/flora/species.asp?item=2361
  6. Offwell Woodland and Wildlife Trust (December 2003):
    http://www.countrysideinfo.co.uk/wetland_survey/burreed.htm
X
Close

Image credit

Female branched bur-reed flowers  
Female branched bur-reed flowers

© Deni Bown / gettyimages.com

Getty Images
101 Bayham Street
London
NW1 0AG
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 800 376 7981
sales@gettyimages.com
http://www.gettyimages.com

X
Close

Link to this photo

ARKive species - Branched bur-reed (Sparganium erectum) Embed this ARKive thumbnail link ("portlet") by copying and pasting the code below.

Terms of Use - The displayed portlet may be used as a link from your website to ARKive's online content for private, scientific, conservation or educational purposes only. It may NOT be used within Apps.

Read more about

X
Close

MyARKive

MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite ARKive images and videos and share them with friends.

Play the Team WILD game:

Team WILD, an elite squadron of science superheroes, needs your help! Your mission: protect and conserve the planet’s species and habitats from destruction.

Conservation in Action

Which species are on the road to recovery? Find out now »

This species is featured in:

Help us share the wonders of the natural world. Donate today!

Blog