Sparganium americanum Nutt.
Sparganiaceae (Bur-reed Family)
USDA Symbol: SPAM
An erect, grass-like, aquatic plant with zig-zag stalks bearing ball-like heads of tiny green flowers.
The Bur-reeds represent an important group of emergent plants that are partly in and partly out of the water; they frequently form dense stands along the edges of shallow lakes and ponds. The seeds are eaten by waterfowl and marsh birds, and muskrats feed on the entire plant. The Great Bur-reed (S. eurycarpum), which reaches a height of 7 feet (2.1 m), has two stigmas, not one as in the rest of the group; it is widely distributed. Floating Bur-reed (S. fluctuans) has a floating stem and floating ribbon-like leaves; it is found in cold ponds and lakes across Canada and New England west to Minnesota.
From the Image Gallery
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
Fruit Type: Achene , Drupe
Size Notes: Up to about 3 feet tall.
Fruit: Green to brown achene-like drupes (often called achenes).
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Yellow , Green
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep
DistributionUSA: AL , AR , CT , DC , DE , FL , GA , IA , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , MS , NC , NH , NJ , NY , OH , OK , PA , RI , SC , TN , TX , VA , VT , WI , WV
Canada: MB , NB , NL , NS , ON , PE , QC
Native Distribution: Ontario east to Newfoundland, south to Florida, west to Texas, and north to Kansas, Iowa and Minnesota.
Native Habitat: Shallow water, muddy shores.
Growing ConditionsWater Use: High
Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Wet
CaCO3 Tolerance: Low
Soil Description: Clay, Loam, Sand
BenefitUse Wildlife: Birds, Other Showy Insects
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Find Seed or Plants
Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.
National Wetland Indicator Status
From the National Organizations DirectoryAccording to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:
Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR
Web ReferenceWebref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter
Research LiteratureReslit 255 - Allelopathy in threesquare burreed (Sparganium americanum) and American eelgrass (Vallisneria americana) (1988) T. S. Cheng and D. N. Riemer
Reslit 659 - Denitrification in constructed wetlands used for treatment of swine wastewater (2003) P. G. Hunt, T. A. Matheny and A. A. Szogi
Reslit 660 - Constructed wetlands for treatment of swine wastewater from an anaerobic lagoon (2002) P. G. Hunt, A. A. Szogi, E. J. Humenik, J. M. Rice...
Reslit 767 - Organic matter retention by macrophyte beds in 2 southeastern USA, low-gradient, headwater streams (2000) P. Koetsier and J. V. McArthur
Reslit 958 - Ability of Four Emergent Macrophytes to Remediate Permethrin in Mesocosm Experiments (2009) M. T. Moore, R. Kroger, C. M. Cooper and S. Smith
Reslit 1328 - Metal concentrations in aquatic macrophytes as influenced by soil and acidification (1998) D. W. Sparling and T. P. Lowe
Reslit 1375 - Nitrogen distribution in soils of constructed wetlands treating lagoon wastewater (2003) A. A. Szogi, P. G. Hunt and F. J. Humenik
This information was provided by the Florida WIldflower Foundation.
Search More Titles in Research Literature
Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Sparganium americanum in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Sparganium americanum in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Sparganium americanum
MetadataRecord Modified: 2023-05-23
Research By: TWC Staff