Sparganium erectum

Sparganium erectum

The simplestem bur-reed or branched bur-reed (Sparganium erectum L., 1753) is a perennial and rhizomatous herbaceous species belonging to the Sparganiaceae family.

Systematics –
From the systematic point of view it belongs to the Eukaryota Domain, Kingdom Plantae, Spermatophyta Superdivision, Magnoliophyta Division, Liliopsida Class, Commelinidae Subclass, Typhales Order, Sparganiaceae Family and therefore to the Genus Sparganium and to the S. erectum Species.
The following common terms are synonymous:
– Sparganium chlorocarpum Rydb .;
– Sparganium eurycarpum Engelm;
– Sparganium microcarpum (Neuman) Celak. (1896);
– Sparganium minimum Wallr. (1840);
– Sparganium neglectum Beeby (1885);
– Sparganium oocarpum (Celak.) Fritsch (1909);
– Sparganium polyedrum (Asch. & Graebn.) Juz. (1934);
– Sparganium racemosum Hudson (1778);
– Sparganium ramosum Huds ..
Of this species we recognize some varieties of which a list is produced, some of which are considered by some authors to be synonymous or belonging to other species:
– Sparganium erectum L. subsp. erectum (1753);
– Sparganium erectum L. subsp. microcarpum (Neum.) Domin. (1935);
– Sparganium erectum L. subsp. neglectum (Beeby) Schinz & Thell. (1914);
– Sparganium erectum L. subsp. neglectum (Beeby) Schinz & Thell. var. microcarpum (Neuman) Hayek;
– Sparganium erectum L. subsp. oocarpum (Celak.) Domin (1935);
– Sparganium erectum L. subsp. polyedrum (Asch. & Graebn.) Schinz & Thell. (1907);
– Sparganium erectum subsp. stoloniferum (Graebn.) C.D.K. Cook & M.S. Nicholls (1987).
There are also some interspecific hybrids, among which we remember:
– Sparganium × aschersonianum Hausskn. (1893) – Hybrid between: S. emersum and S. erectum;
– Sparganium × englerianum Ascherson & Graebner (1897) – Hybrid between: S. erectum subsp. neglectum and S. emersum;
– Sparganium × tardivum Topa in Savulescu (1966) – Hybrid between: S. erectum subsp. erectum and S. erectum subsp. neglectum.

Etymology –
The term Sparganium comes from the Greek σπαργάνιον spargánion plant mentioned by Theophrastus and Dioscorides (from σπάργᾰνον spárgănon fasce). In ancient Italian sparganio indicated a plant with leaves in the shape of a ribbon or ribbon.
The specific epithet erectum is due to the erect, upright posture.

Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
The simplestem bur-reed is a species with a vast Eurasian-South European distribution.
In Europe it is widespread in all areas, while in the rest of the world, this species is found in North Africa (Morocco), in Western Asia, in the Caucasus and in Siberia; in North America (probably naturalized) and Australia (also naturalized here).
In Italy this species is more or less common in all wetlands suitable for this type of plant from the Mediterranean belt towards the interior (including the islands).
Its habitat, typical for all subspecies present in Italy, are ditches, stagnant or slow-flowing waters with an average depth of about 30 cm. The preferred substrate is generally calcareous but also calcareous-siliceous, with neutral soil pH and high nutritional values ​​(it is a nitrophilic plant).
The altitudinal diffusion goes from the plain up to 500 m s.l.m. but it is possible to find species of greater cutlass even above 1000 meters of altitude.

Description –
Sparganium erectum is a perennial rhizomatous aquatic plant.
The fleshy rhizomatous roots sink on the bottoms of small ponds or slow water streams, they are submerged and floating in the water.
Spectacular erect stems, light green in color, covered with large leaves, branch off from the roots. The stems of this aquatic plant can reach a height between 40 and 80 centimeters.
The leaves are of the same color as the stems, arranged in a fan shape, wide, leathery, which constitute dense tufts that reach dimensions even greater than one meter in height.
The flowering of this plant lasts all summer, producing long stems that carry particular very ramified inflorescences, consisting of bunches of round glomeruli, greenish-white, the upper ones are male, the lower ones are female.
The indehiscent fruit is an achenose, composed of numerous drupeoles of 5-10 x 3-7 mm, from fusiform to obpyramidal, narrowed at the top in the style of 1.5-3 mm.

Cultivation –
The simplestem bur-reed is an aquatic plant that grows in humid places, in riparian reeds near eutrophic stagnant waters, on muddy soils rich in nitrogen compounds, below the lower mountain belt.
However, the plant prefers sunny positions, but it develops without problems even in partial shade; it does not fear the cold, and usually it can also be seen in the wild in the waterways of our country.
The plant should be planted on the banks of slow waterways or small lakes, taking care to place the rhizomes at a depth equal to their diameter, in fairly fertile and loose soil, in a place that is completely submerged by water. .
Multiplication can occur by seed or by multiplication.
We proceed by burying the seeds extracted from the pulp of the small fruits in a compound consisting of sand and peat in equal parts, then the sowing container is placed in a tray with high sides; the seedbed must be kept under water until the seeds germinate completely.
The rhizomatous roots often spread by crawling underground and thanks to these it is also possible to obtain plants by radical multiplication; to obtain new plants it is sufficient to divide the rhizomes in early spring and immediately plant them.

Customs and Traditions –
The simplestem bur-reed is a plant suitable for gardens with streams or small ponds.
It is a plant, which due to its characteristics, can be used for the creation of phytodepuration plants.
The fruits of this plant are excellent food for birds, especially in the late autumn season.
The larvae of the Plusia festucae moth feed on Sparganium erectum.
In cooking, the rhizomes and the basal parts of the stems are edible.
In some areas, cooked roots are used which have a sweetish taste.

Preparation Method –
The simplestem bur-reed, as well as for its uses as an ornamental plant or for phytodepuration plants, is used in the kitchen where the rhizomes and the basal parts of the stems are edible and in some areas the cooked roots are used.
From a pharmaceutical point of view, according to folk medicine, an infusion of this plant (especially the leaves) can be useful in the treatment for chills.

Guido Bissanti

Sources
– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– Useful Tropical Plants Database.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (edited by), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora of Italy, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Lord’s Pharmacy, Advice and experiences with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Editore.

Warning: Pharmaceutical applications and alimurgical uses are indicated for informational purposes only, they do not represent in any way a medical prescription; therefore no responsibility is taken for their use for curative, aesthetic or food purposes.

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