BUR-REED (BRANCHED)

Sparganium erectum

Bulrush Family [Typhaceae]  

month8jun month8june month8jul month8july month8Aug

status
statusZnative
flower
flower8green
inner
inner8cream
petals
petalsZ0
stem
stem8round
sex
sexZmonoecious
1st Aug 2008, Rufford Branch, Leeds & Liverpool Canal Photo: © RWD
Leaves long, linear, up to 1.5m tall, very strongly keeled for rigidity and much longer than the inflorescent stalks. Flowering spikes largely hidden by leaves.


1st Aug 2008, Rufford Branch, Leeds & Liverpool Canal Photo: © RWD
 Strongly curved leaves emerge from the armpits of each branch, which are alternate. Numerous and smaller male flowers at the ends of each branch; female heads larger and much fewer in number.


7th Aug 2007, Rufford Branch, Leeds & Liverpool Canal Photo: © RWD
  Smaller male heads cover summit of each branch, larger female heads (in fruit) lower down.


1st Aug 2008, Rufford Branch, Leeds & Liverpool Canal Photo: © RWD
  Stems smooth and hairless.


7th Aug 2007, Rufford Branch, Leeds & Liverpool Canal Photo: © RWD
 Female flowers with white styles/stigmas protruding.


24th Aug 2014, Rufford Branch, Leeds & Liverpool Canal Photo: © RWD
  Male flowers at the top out-numbering female flowers beneath them.


24th Aug 2014, Rufford Branch, Leeds & Liverpool Canal Photo: © RWD
  Male flowers open from the bottom upwards, those at top being the last to open.


24th Aug 2014, Rufford Branch, Leeds & Liverpool Canal Photo: © RWD
 Topmost male head yet to flower, those below in varios stages of flowering.


24th Aug 2014, Rufford Branch, Leeds & Liverpool Canal Photo: © RWD
 Uppermost male flowers still to sprout stamens(?) The right-most one may have anthers starting to protrude(?).


24th Aug 2014, Rufford Branch, Leeds & Liverpool Canal Photo: © RWD
 The long white stamens of the male flowers with creamy-yellow anthers.


1st Aug 2008, Rufford Branch, Leeds & Liverpool Canal Photo: © RWD
 Female flowers at fruiting stage,


24th Aug 2014, Rufford Branch, Leeds & Liverpool Canal Photo: © RWD
 A globular cluster of individual fruits of the female flowers, they are beaked. Some fruits are much larger than others, perhaps only those have been fertilised?


24th Aug 2014, Rufford Branch, Leeds & Liverpool Canal Photo: © RWD
 Eventually the male heads at the top fall off leaving the fruits of the female still attached.


Some similarities to other Bur-reeds:

  • Un-branched Bur-reed (Sparganium emersum), but that is without branches on the stem and is only half the maximum height, 60cm.
  • The similarly short (up to 60cm in length) Floating Bur-reed (Sparganium angustifolium) but that has floating leaves and only two male flowers and between 2 and 4 female flowers, and it prefers shallow peaty acidic waters.
  • The shortest at just 30cm Least Bur-reed (Sparganium natans) which has but one male flower with narrower (2-6mm) leaves. May also grow in alkaline waters.

Not to be confused with : Bur-Marigolds such as London Bur-Marigold or Nodding Bur-Marigold [plants with similar name from a different family].

The Genus Sparganium [which was the sole member of the Bur-Reed (Sparganiaceae] Family) has more recently been found to more closely match the Family Typhaceae, which is to where the Sparganiaceae Family has now been subsumed.

There are 4 sub-species:

  • Branched Bur-reed (Sparganium erectum ssp. erectum) - Central & Southern Britain & IOM. Fruits often dark-brown and flat-topped apart from the beak in the centre.
  • Branched Bur-reed (Sparganium erectum ssp. microcarpum) - All Britain, Ireland & IOM. Fruits often dark-brown at apex with rounded top which narrows abruptly to a beak.
  • Branched Bur-reed (Sparganium erectum ssp. neglectum) - Throughout Britain & Ireland. Fruits pale-brown, ellipsoidal, only gradually narrowing to a beak.
  • Branched Bur-reed (Sparganium erectum ssp. oocarpum) - The dominant sub-species. Fruits pale-brown nearly globular and abruptly narrowing to a beak. Usually very few fruits form per head. This is possibly the hybrid between ssp. erectum and ssp. neglectum.
It is not known to which sub-species (possibly plural) the above photos represent - none of the fruits are yet ripe (brown of any shade), it depends exactly how gradual is 'gradually' and how abrupt is 'abrupt'... But in the photos of the fruiting heads - if the expanded fruits are ripe, then there are very few of them per head, so, ipso facto - they must be the ssp. oocarpum...

It is an aquatic perennial plant that grows in or besides still(ish) fresh-water such as canals. The fruiting heads are globular, with many beaked fruits - much like a mediaeval mace! The leaves are long, linear and deeply keeled for rigidity, standing much taller than the flowers. It is monoeciuos, with separate male and female flowers on the same plant. Floating leaves are rare on this species; they are much more common on Floating Bur-reed (Sparganium angustifolium)


  Sparganium erectum  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Typhaceae  

Distribution
family8bur-reed family8Sparganiacaea

 BSBI maps
genus8sparganium
Sparganium
(Bur-reeds)

BUR-REED (BRANCHED)

Sparganium erectum

Bulrush Family [Typhaceae]  

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