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Statewide IPM Program, University of California

Upright Burhead  (Echinodorus berteroi)

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Life stages of Burhead top picture bottom left picture bottom right picture

Upright burhead is an aquatic annual to short-lived perennial broadleaf plant that grows primarily in shallowly flooded areas or in mud. In California upright burhead is often annual and occurs in the eastern North Coast Ranges, Central Valley, central-western region, and southwestern region, up to an elevation of about 1000 feet (300 m). It is a desirable member of natural communities, but occasionally becomes weedy in rice fields where the crop stand is thin and in other areas such as irrigation drainage canals, ponds, and stream margins.


The seedling may be confused with common waterplantain, Alisma plantago-aquatica, seedlings because the cotyledons (seed leaves) of both plants float on the water's surface. However, young upright burhead plants usually grow underwater and have stalkless leaves, whereas seedling waterplantain leaves are stalked.

Young plant

Usually covered with water, young plants have stalkless, narrow to broadly ribbonlike leaves with wavy margins.

Mature plant

Plants can grow 1 to 2 feet (30–60 cm) tall. Leaves are basal to the flower stalks. Submerged leaves are stalkless and often ribbonlike while floating leaves are somewhat heart shaped at the base, blunt at the tip, and have long, angled stalks.


Flowers bloom from summer through fall and consist of three, widely spaced, white petals with many ovaries in a spherical cluster.


Fruiting heads are dense, egg shaped, and look like burs because of the pointy fruit on their surface.


Upright burhead reproduces mostly from seed. Sometimes a new plant will root from the flowering stem.

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