Branched Bur-reed

Branched Bur-reed

Branched Bur-reed - Sparganium erectum

Local name at Fucecchio Marshes Biodanino.

The Branched Bur-reed is one of the most typical marshland plants. Like many others which share the same habitat, it has a creeping rhizome submerged in the mud.

An erect, cylindrical stem grows from the rhizome, wrapped by a sheath of wide three-sided leaves arranged in a fan, forming thick tufts up to a metre and a half high.

The knife-like shape of the leaves explains the common Italian name of "Coltelaccio" (large sort of knife). The peculiar inflorescence consists of numerous branches, each carrying from one to three round bur-like female heads below and from six to nine smaller male heads on top.

The flowers are pollinated by the wind. It flowers from June to August. The seed pod looks a little Horse Chestnut conker, the numerous ripe fruits inside are an important food reserve for many birds during the autumn.

Sparganium erectum is common and widespread in suitable habitats all over Italy.

It forms extensive stands in the transition zones between the banks and open waters of pools, often near the Flowering Rush Butomus umbellatus and Bulrush Typha latifolia.