Butomus umbellatus

Thank you once again to Marianne, aka marcella2@Flickr, for contributing a photograph to Botany Photo of the Day (original image | Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool). Always glad to have an image from a vascular plant family that hasn’t yet been featured on BPotD!

Butomus umbellatus is the sole member of the monotypic genus Butomus, itself in turn the sole member of the monotypic Butomaceae. The closest living relatives to this freshwater aquatic are species in the Hydrocharitaceae (a family that includes both freshwater and marine aquatics).

Known as flowering rush (though it isn’t a true rush), Butomus umbellatus has a distribution that spans much of Europe and western Asia. Introduction into North America (believed to be for use as a garden plant) has resulted in widespread dispersal through the north temperate parts of the continent, and it is considered an invasive species. The page on Butomus umbellatus from the Noxious Weeds of King County explains the difficulty in controlling this species once it has established, so preventing dispersal is paramount.

For additional photographs, see the Flora of Israel’s page on Butomus umbellatus or the Robert W. Freckmann Herbarium’s page on Butomus umbellatus.

On a technical BPotD note: a few people have noticed that BPotD images are failing to display completely on a consistent basis. I believe this is because of the IUCN Red List “Species of the Day” box that appears at the bottom of the daily posting. The “Species of the Day” is an embedded feed — meaning that for it to display, the IUCN web server is contacted each time a BPotD daily page is loaded and then the IUCN web server supplies the graphic. I think that from time to time, the IUCN web server gets overloaded — and this halts the loading of the BPotD page (and images) while your browser tries (and tries) to gather the information it needs from the IUCN server. Two possible solutions: 1) you can reload / refresh the page when this does occur (Ctrl-R on a PC with Firefox, or hit the reload button); or 2) I can remove the IUCN Red List Species of the Day box (which will be done anyway come Jan. 1). My preference is for option 1.

Photography resource link: the landscape photography of Joel Truckenbrod (portfolio), emphasizing the Upper Midwest of the USA.

Butomus umbellatus

12 responses to “Butomus umbellatus”

  1. Claire B (Saskatoon)

    Love the critter!
    I had this plant in my backyard pond for a number of years but it eventually got squeezed out by the cattails. I haven’t seen it for sale in local garden centers for ages.

  2. phillip

    ..the fractal at the tip of ‘mr.bugs’ beak…must be sweet…

  3. kate

    Thanks for the great website — I am so glad I happened upon it!!
    RE: the picture “images are failing to display completely on a consistent basis.” I have seen that a few times on BPotD, but, as you have suggested, each time I just hit the ‘reload’/’refresh’ button and all was well. This happens on several of my favorite sites and my answer it just to ‘reload’/refresh’ with good results.
    Thanks, again.

  4. CherriesWalks

    Funny how similar the flower looks to a fireweed flower!

  5. Jan

    It isn’t as common as it should be in the UK, funny how it is invasive elsewhere.

  6. elizabeth a airhart

    follow daniels links -the freckmann page
    is just fine the botanical illustrations
    are very nice and one may print
    i think daniel maybe right the sever is busy
    i take the countdown 2010 newsletter that helps
    last night the lighting strike shut me down
    for some time happily in a few hours all was well
    there are a lot of wildflower pages one page
    gave me wild flowers to search by color
    state by state and over seas bon jour

  7. Sara

    So what is “The Bug”? a dragonfly? no approximate size on the flower, so don’t know if this is a monstrously big bug or a little tiny flower. Should I have nightmares about toxic waste creating giant flying insects with piercing mouth parts? eek! Where is Alfred Hitchcock when you need him?

  8. Renee in Texas

    I have never had a problem with pictures loading. Thanks for all the work you do. The bug looks like a good ole Texas wasp but I’m sure it’s something else.

  9. Keith O'Brien

    “The Bug” is an insect (a bug is an insect, but not all insects are bugs – true bugs belong to the order Heteroptera).
    The insect in the picture may be a Crane Fly, though the folded wings over the abdomen throws me a bit. I have never been good at identifying flies. Definitely not a Dragonfly though.

  10. Doug

    I think Keith is right. Possibly the genus Trichocera (in the family Trichoceridae – Winter crane flies)
    But I object to Keith’s complaint about the common usage of the word, “bug”. Sure, “True Bugs” are in the order Hemiptera, suborder Heteroptera. Trying to remove the common link between “bug” and “insect” is like trying to command the tide…

  11. Ron B

    It’s a robber fly (Asilidae). The flower is being used as a hunting platform.

  12. Don Fenton

    I’m dissapointed that you are thinking of discontinuing the Red-List Species of the Day spot, I always look to see what it is; I rarely actually nbclick on it: the connections are so clunky on my dial-up-connection that it would take up all my computer-time to wait for them to download.

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