In that not-quite-wet and not-quite-dry environment of the swamp and the swampy edges of ponds and streams, the bur-reed grows. Most of the time it is not conspicuous; but twice during the year it merits attention. In April the flower spikes thrust from the angled, dark green stems with their clasping, narrow leaves. The flower stalks are composed of round clusters of Stamens and pistils, the former fluffier and yellower than the latter. The stem holds tight green buds, half opened flower balls, wide open flowers, and flowers whose parts have fallen away to show seeds beginning to form.
Sparganium eurycarpum Engelm.
May - June Swamps, ponds.
The seed time is the second attention-getting period in the inconspicuous life of the bur reed on the swampy shore. Now the one-time flower spikes are seed spikes: each is studded with several globular green fruiting clusters radiating individual seed spikes. The seed head is shaped much like that of the sweet gum tree.
The time of the flowering of bur-reed in the grassy swamp beside the river is the time when the redwinged blackbirds are back in the marsh. The redwings carol and teeter and flash their brilliant scarlet and gold shoulders, spread their glossy black tails and seem almost to force out the song which spills over the marsh. The period between the blossoming of the bur-reed and the seed time in June sees the redwings building nests in cattails or low willows, and by the time the green fruit heads have formed on the bur-reeds, there are young redwings fussing in the uests. As the hot summer comes on, the hurreed seeds ripen and turn brown on the stalks, and the young redwings are grown and come to feed in the sunny summer marsh.