Page authors: Don Knoke, David Giblin
Sparganium natans
arctic bur-reed, small bur-reed

Distribution: Occurring on both sides of the Cascades crest in Washington; Alaska to California, across the northern half of North America to the Atlantic Coast.

Habitat: Shallow water, mostly in mountain lakes, sometimes completely submersed.

Flowers: July-August

Origin: Native

Growth Duration: Perennial

Conservation Status: Not of concern

Pollination: Wind


Dioecious, aquatic perennials from rhizomes, stems from floating and up to 10 dm. long to largely emersed and 1-3 dm. tall.


Leaves floating to erect, 3-6 mm. broad, exceeding the inflorescence.


Flowers in globose clusters toward the tip of the main stem; inflorescence simple, up to 6 cm. long, with 3-4 heads, the uppermost staminate or with both staminate and pistillate flowers; pistillate heads up to 12 mm. thick when mature, usually all sessile; stamens 3-5 with 3-5 minute, chaffy bracts; pistil 1, stigma 1.


Fruit a nutlet-like achene with a stipe 1 mm. long, the body ellipsoid, 3 mm. long, the beak 1-1.5 mm. long.

Accepted Name:
Sparganium natans L.
Publication: Sp. Pl. 2: 971. 1753.

Synonyms & Misapplications:
Sparganium minimum Wallr. [HC]
Sparganium minimum (L.) Fr., homonym (illegitimate)
Additional Resources:

PNW Herbaria: Specimen records of Sparganium natans in the Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria database

WA Flora Checklist: Sparganium natans checklist entry

OregonFlora: Sparganium natans information

E-Flora BC: Sparganium natans atlas page

CalPhotos: Sparganium natans photos

25 photographs:
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