General: Bur-reed family (Sparaniaceae).
Sparganium americanum (SPAM)
Sparganium androcladum (SPAN)
Sparganium angustifolium (SPAN2)
Sparganium erectum (SPER)
Sparganium eurycarpum (SPEU)
Sparganium fluctuans (SPFL)
Sparganium glomeratum (SPGL)
Sparganium hyperboreum (SPHY)
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).
Distribution: 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.
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Regularity: Regularly occurring
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
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..
Life History and Behavior
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Sparganium americanum
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Sparganium americanum
Public Records: 1
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked
Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure
Please consult the Plants Web site and your State Department of Natural Resources for this plant’s current status, such as, state noxious status and wetland indicator values.
Cultivars, improved and selected materials (and area of origin)
Contact your local Natural Resources Conservation Service (formerly Soil Conservation Service) office for more information. Look in the phone book under ”United States Government.” The Natural Resources Conservation Service will be listed under the subheading “Department of Agriculture.”
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).
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
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).
Sparganium americanum, American bur-reed, is a perennial plant found in the United States of America and Canada. Though this species looks like a grass, it is not, it is a type of bur-reed.  This species is important for conservation purposes because it has the ability to remove nitrogen and phosphorus runoff from water, like many other wetland species. By doing this it protects waterways from excess nitrogen which can cause eutrophication. This increased nitrogen is especially a problem during the farmers’ growing season. During this same time frame the S. americanum is growing and taking up nitrogen. 
Sparganium americanum is located in marshes. American bur-reed grows from spring to fall in low marsh and shallow water (from 0 to 12 inches of water).  Sparganium americanum is located in the United States of America and Canada. In the United States, American bur-reed is found in Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Washington DC, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Vermont, Wisconsin, and West Virginia. In Canada American bur-reed can be found in Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward, and Quebec. 
Habitat and Ecology
Sparganium americanum is a perennial plant.  American bur-reed grow in low marsh and shallow water, surviving in water up to 12 inches deep. This species helps stabilize muddy areas. Waterfowl and other animals feed on the seeds of S. americanum and some animals also eat their leaves.  Sparganium americanum live in peaty to sandy soils along lakeshores, slow moving streams and as floating vegetation in boggy lakes. In a paper by the State University of New York at Binghamton, scientists showed that S. americanum accrued more aboveground biomass and lower belowground biomass than the other four wetland plant species the study looked at. The study looked at Sparganium americanum, Phalaris arundinacea, Scirpus cyperinus, Juncus effusus, and Calamagrostis canadensis. The study also showed that S. americanum had the highest concentration of nitrogen and phosphorus in aboveground tissue compared to the other species in the study. Even though S. americanum accumulated the most aboveground nitrogen and phosphorus, this species lost so much phosphorus that its net retention dropped below that of other species in the study. In the short run American bur-reed is helpful in retaining nutrients from agricultural runoff.
Sparganium americanum is a monocot plant.  Individuals of this species may look like grass, but they aren’t. Individual American bur-reeds can grow to be between two and four feet. American bur-reed plants flower during the summer.  The leaves are green and are triangular in cross section; the leaves of individuals living in deeper water can produce floating leaves. 
Flowers and fruit
Sparganium americanum spread rapidly through their underground root systems of rhizomes. American bur-reed does flower in the summer time.  The inflorescence of S. americanum can be branched or simple. The fruits of this plant species have a dull surface with beaks that are between 2 and 5 millimeters long. These beaks may be straight, but some of them may be curved. The flower tepals could have a dark spot on them. 
- http://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=SPAM Sparganium americanum Nutt. American bur-reed, United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service
- http://www.aquascapesunlimited.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=plants.plantDetail&plant_id=102&typeID=2 Sparganium americanum. Aquascapes Unlimited Inc.
- Kao, Jenny T., John E. Titus, and Wei-Xing Zhu. 2003. Differential Nitrogen and Phosphorus Retention by Five Wetland Plant Species. Wetlands Vol. 23, No. 4: 979-987. DOI 10.1672/0277-5212(2003)023[0979:DNAPRB]2.0.CO;2. Accessed 4/30/14.
- Sulman, Josh. 2013. Sparganium identification key and species descriptions. University of Wisconsin-Madison, Department of Botany. Accessed 4/30/14 at http://botany.wisc.edu/jsulman/Sparganium%20identification%20key%20and%20description.htm
- USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913. An illustrated flora of the northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 vols. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York. Vol. 1: 70.
E. O. Beal (1977) recognized three morphologically overlapping races of Sparganium americanum: the coastal race, growing in the lower coastal plain from Virginia to Florida and Louisiana, and north in the Mississippi Embayment to Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Missouri, has leaves wide for the species, rachises 2--5-branched, and stigmas 1.5+ mm long; the Appalachian race, growing in the Appalachian region from Maine to western North Carolina and in the Ozark Mountains, has leaves narrow for the species, rachises simple to sparingly branched, and stigmas 0.9 mm or less; and the ubiquitous race, growing throughout the range of the species with increasing robustness southward, morphologically overlaps the others.
To request an improvement, please leave a comment on the page. Thank you!