One wetland-loving plant that always catches my eye anytime of year is bur-reed. The narrow, linear leaves resemble iris or cattail. Bur-reed grows to about 1-2 feet tall in small colonies near the water's edge.
|Bur-reed colony at a pond edge|
It's the flowers and fruits of bur-reed, or Sparganium, that are unique. The round female and male flowers are borne on a branched zigzagging stem. The bigger, greenish female flowers below and the smaller, whitish male flowers near the tip. The female flower develops into a beaked nutlet or bur.
|Bur-reed leaves changing color in September|
Ducks and rails eat the nutlets and muskrats like the entire plant.
|Fruits of bur-reed, Sparganium eurycarpum|
Earlier this summer when I visited these local wetlands, the bur-reed was just flowering.
|Bur-reed flowering in early June|
|Bur-reed in early June, flowers not yet open.|
You can see that all during the growing season, bur-reed is a curious plant. You may overlook the leaves, but look closer and you'll see the zigzag stems with its round flowers or spikey fruits.