American Bur-reed (Americanum)

The American Bur-reed (Americanum) is generally described as a perennial forb/herb. This is native to the U.S. (United States) has its most active growth period in the spring . The greatest bloom is usually observed in the indeterminate, with fruit and seed production starting in the spring and continuing until fall. Leaves are not retained year to year. The American Bur-reed (Americanum) has a moderate life span relative to most other plant species and a moderate growth rate. At maturity, the typical American Bur-reed (Americanum) will reach up to 3.2 feet high, with a maximum height at 20 years of 0 inches.

The American Bur-reed (Americanum) is easily found in nurseries, garden stores and other plant dealers and distributors. It can be propagated by seed, sprigs. It has a rapid ability to spread through seed production and the seedlings have high vigor. Note that cold stratification is not required for seed germination and the plant cannot survive exposure to temperatures below -33°F. has none tolerance to drought and restricted water conditions.

Uses of : Landscaping, Medicinal, Culinary, etc.

Ethnobotanic..The Klamath Indians dug the tubers (possibly Sparganium angustifolium, S. erectum, and/or S. eurycarpum) produced in late autumn from the creeping rootstocks of some of the species of this genus, and use them as food (Steyermark 1963). An infusion of Sparanium erectum can be mixed with other plant leaves and used in the treatment of chills (Moerman 1998). A decoction of Sparganium stoloniferum root was used in the treatment of chest pains and abdominal pain (Yeung 1985).

General Characteristics

General: Bur-reed family (Sparaniaceae). American bur-reed Sparganium americanum (SPAM) branched bur-reed Sparganium androcladum (SPAN) narrowleaf bur-reed Sparganium angustifolium (SPAN2) simplestem bur-reed Sparganium erectum (SPER) broadfruit bur-reed Sparganium eurycarpum (SPEU) floating bur-reed Sparganium fluctuans (SPFL) clustered bur-reed Sparganium glomeratum (SPGL) northern bur-reed Sparganium hyperboreum (SPHY) small bur-reed Sparganium natans (SPNA) These bur-reed species are native, herbaceous marsh or pond plants with rootstocks. The leaves are alternate, stiff and erect or limp and floating, linear, and internally septate (The Great Plains Flora Association 1986). The individual flowers are small and occur in separate male (staminate) or female (pistillate) globular clusters on the same plant. (Steyermark 1963).

Required Growing Conditions

A genus of twenty or more Sparanium species is widely distributed in temperate and colder latitudes of the eastern and western hemispheres, and in eastern North America (Braun 1967). For current distribution, please consult the Plant profile page for this species on the PLANTS Web site.

Adaptation This species grows best on wet ground in rich soil. It prefers full sun but can tolerate some shade. Sparanium species is mostly found in muddy or shallow water of swamps and ponds. For current distribution, please consult the Plant profile page for this species on the PLANTS Web site

Cultivation and Care

Propagation by Seed: Sparanium seeds should be sown as soon as they are ripe in the greenhouse. This species should be placed in pots standing in two to three centimeters of water. Place the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and gradually increase the depth of water with plant growth. Plant Sparanium sp to their permanent positions in the summer.

Large divisions can be planted directly into their permanent positions. While allowing smaller potted divisions to grow in a cold frame until they are well established and ready for summer out-planting to their permanent location..

General Upkeep and Control

Seeds of most aquatic plants should be sown as soon as they are ripe. The seeds lose viability quickly if it is allowed to dry out. If immediate sowing is inconvenient store seeds in moist peat, or substitute in a plastic bag and keep frost-free (Heuser 1997).

Plant Basics
Growth Rate Moderate
General Type Forb/herb
Growth Period Spring
Growth Duration Perennial
Lifespan Moderate
Plant Nativity Native to U.S.
Commercial Availability Routinely Available
Physical Characteristics
Bloom Period Indeterminate
Displays Fall Colors No
Shape/Growth Form Colonizing
Drought Tolerance None
Shade Tolerance Intermediate
Height When Mature 3.2
Vegetative Spread Rapid
Flower Color Green
Flower Conspicuousness No
Fruit/Seed Abundance Medium
Fruit/Seed Seasonality Spring Fall
Seed Spread Rate Rapid
Gardening Characteristics
Propagations (Ways to Grow) Seed, Sprigs
Moisture Requirements High
Cold Stratification Required No
Minimum Temperature -33
Soil Depth for Roots 8
Toxic to Nearby Plants No
Toxic to Livestock No
After-Harvest Regrowth Rate Slow
After-Harvest Resprout Ability No
Responds to Coppicing No
Growth Requirements
pH Range 4.9–7.3 pH
Precipitation Range 35–35 inches/yr
Planting Density 3500–4800 indiv./acre
Soil Textures Coarse, Fine, Medium
Soil Depth for Roots 8
Minimum Frost-Free Days 95 day(s)
Salinity Tolerance None
CaCO3 Tolerance Low
Sustainability & Use
Leaf Retention No
Palatability Medium
Fire Resistant No
Causes Livestock Bloating None

Source: USDA, NRCS, PLANTS Database,
National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA