Sparganium erectum - Branched Bur-reed

Phylum: Magnoliophyta - Class: Equisetopsida - Order: Poales - Family: Sparganiaceae

Branched bur-reed


Branched bur-reed can reach a height of 1.5 metres. The flower stalk is branched (unlike its relative the Unbranched Bur-reed in which a single stem witout branches carries the flowers) The leaves are usually erect but occasionally they lie floating on the surface of the water. Individual flower clusters are unstalked, those at the top of the spike being male whereas the larger bur-like fowers lower down are female.

Female flowers or Sparganium erectum

Above: bur-like female flowers


Branched Bur-reed is common and widespread throughout Britain and Ireland except for the far north.

Mature male flowers, Sparganium erectum

Above: mature male flowers of Sparganium erectum


This fairly common aquatic plant grows in the water at the edges of lakes and slow-flowing rivers.

Male and female flowers of Branched Bur-reed

Blooming times

The strange spiked flowers appear in July and August.


Adult reed smutts (Simulium species) are often seen sunning themselves on the leaf stems in summer.

The plants shown on this page were photographed beside the River Meon, Hampshire UK, in July.

Please Help Us: If you have found this information interesting and useful, please consider helping to keep First Nature online by making a small donation towards the web hosting and internet costs.

Any donations over and above the essential running costs will help support the conservation work of Plantlife, the Rivers Trust and charitable botanic gardens - as do author royalties and publisher proceeds from books by Pat and Sue.

© 1995 - 2023 First Nature: a not-for-profit volunteer-run resource

Please help to keep this free resource online...

Terms of use - Privacy policy - Disable cookies - Links policy