Being a hardy plant, the bur-reed or Sparganium erectum is a variety of aquatic plants from the Sparganiaceae family which can be classified among annuals bearing summer flowers. It thrives in shallow water and produces prickly-ball shaped white flowers. It also bears quite persistent leaves that are straw-coloured in winter and green in summer. Formerly, they were woven to make baskets.

The bur-reed can often be found at the edge of ponds and rivers. It is an erect plant, of which the leaves are linear and of dark green colour, and which may reach a height of 5 feet (1.50 m). Often stifled by reed beds, the bur-reed water withstands water pollution and is often used for its creeping stems and powerful rhizomes that are well suited for securing the banks. The leaves, present in two rows, are opposite and the branched stems bear unisexual flower clusters, the female being located below the branches and the males at their tip.  In summer, spikes of yellow flowers appear followed by the formation of brownish green, spiky, fleshy, and spherical fruit.

Planting and propagation of bur-reed

Bur-reed can be grown anywhere in the world, in areas of cold or temperate climate. The best time to plant is in spring but it the seeds of bur-reed may well be sown in autumn and left to rest during winter. To do this, remove the flower heads once they start to decay and then cover the seeds with a with thin, uniform layer of damp soil or sow them on the fly. It is a plant that likes to be drowned in water, on land that is rich in silt, nutrients and humus. Thus, plant them so that the seedlings are spaced 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 cm) in the water. In the spring, the seeds will germinate and one can proceed to divide up the tufts to achieve propagation. These are plants that enjoy full sun and should not be sheltered under a tree to thrive. The seeds falling on the water’s surface can float for a year before germinating.

Some comments on the growth and maintenance of bur-reed

Very often, bur-reeds are not easily noticed because they are hidden under other plants surrounding water bodies. On top of that, their leaves resemble those of young irises and sweet flag. Bur-reeds therefore need light to develop. Thus, to ensure the plant’s good survival, dried leaves must be removed every spring so that new shoots have available space and ventilation to grow properly. It is also possible to mow the bur-reed flush during this season. Since this plant’s fruits and inflorescences reveal a certain charm, it is advisable to plant them in small groups on the basin’s surrounding area. Given that the bur-reed’s roots can quickly become invasive, it is also recommended to grow them in trays. Burreed is very resistant to pests and diseases but in case of attack by parasites it is advisable to use insecticides or natural repellents.

Related posts:

  1. Honeysuckle, an easy-to-maintain garden plant
  2. Growing flowers along borders
  3. Planting and maintaining a coconut tree
  4. Planting and maintaining a pear tree
  5. Growing quince trees

Published in Aquatic plants by Alexander on 26 Jul 2011