Botany Photo of the Day
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Sparganium erectum

Sparganium erectum

Thanks again to marcella2@Flickr for sharing a photograph (original image | BPotD Flickr Group Pool). The last time a photograph from marcella2@Flickr was featured on BPotD, over three dozen images of plants were available by clicking on the marcella2@Flickr link – now there's over five dozen, so you might like to revisit them.

I should first of all note that I've changed the name of the plant posted by marcella2 from Sparganium ramosum to the catch-all Sparganium erectum (a number of Sparganium are listed as being synonymous to Sparganium erectum). I'm following the nomenclature suggested by Missouri Botanical Garden's TROPICOS database, but with reservation. In a conversation with Richard Lansdown ten days ago or so, Richard expressed the opinion that many of the less-examined plants sharing the same name in both Europe and North America are actually quite different from one another. Even the Flora of North America expresses reservation about the nomenclature within this genus, because the last work done on it (in the mid 1980s) did not contain detailed studies of the species across their complete ranges. A grain of salt is required, it seems.

I've an inexplicable soft spot for plants in the genus Sparganium, despite the fact that some have been declared a noxious weed. It may be that the soft spot stems from the exotic appearance – exotic, at least, to someone first learning plants through observing the native plants of Manitoba. I still find them interesting, and I know if I encountered some similar to these, I'd spent quite a bit of time photographing them.

Botany resource link: The northernmost botanical garden in the world, Tromsø Botanical Garden at nearly 70° N in Norway. Tromsø BG has a growing season from late May to mid-October, thanks to the effect of the Gulf Stream.


Sparganium erectum - Z6 - RHS Index of Garden Plants, Griffiths
Sparganium erectum - Z5-9 - A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants, Brickell, Cole, Zuk

I am preparing the treatment of Sparganium for ed. 2 of the Jepson Manual of the Higher Plants of California. I think that S. erectum subsp. stoloniferum as defined by Cook and Nichols (1987) should be recognized for California (to B.C.(?), but am seeking more information on S. erectum and S. eurycarpum. I am working with a loan of about 50 specimens from the University of California and the collections at U. of Wisconsin, where there are few Sparganium specimens from the Pacific Coast of N.Am. or Eurasia.

Your beautiful photograph posted by Marcella2 looks much like some specimens from coastal California and Oregon I have on loan. Are the stigmas mostly 1 per flower? What was the geographical origin of the plant? Do you have any other information on Sparganium erectum and eurycarpum in B.C.?

Galen Smith, Professor Emeritus
University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
Honorary Fellow, Department of Botany, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Hard to say - the photographer will have to comment on a few of your questions, but to broadly answer the geographical question, it is somewhere in The Netherlands.

We have neither of the two species in the collections here at the botanical garden. As for the genus Sparganium in British Columbia, my first instinct is to suggest you contact Adolf Ceska of Botanical Electronic News. He may redirect you to Chris Brayshaw, but I'm not certain how active he still is.

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