This section is from the book "Sub-Alpine Plants Or Flowers Of The Swiss Woods And Meadows", by H. Stuart Thompson. Also available from Amazon: Sub-Alpine Plants: Or, Flowers of the Swiss Woods and Meadows.
A small tufted species, 4-8 inches high, with narrow leaves shorter than the stem. Spikelet terminal and solitary, male in the upper half, the lower flowers being female. Stigmas 2. Fruit ovate, sessile and erect when young, becoming oblong and pointed and horizontal or reflected when ripe and resembling fleas.
Most of Europe from Scandinavia to the Caucasus. British.
A somewhat similar species in habit and size. Spikelet 10-12 flowered. Fruit with a long, green bristle at the base, ovate-lanceolate, 5 mm. long, dark brown. Leaves setaceous, channelled.
Alpine and sub-alpine marshes and bogs; rare. June.
Switzerland (Grisons, Valais, etc.), Mt. Cenis, Savoy, Central and Northern Europe and Asia; Greenland.
A small slender species, with long creeping runners and slightly branched stem, decumbent at the base, occasionally tufted. Leaves narrow, the upper ones sheathing the stem to the middle. Spikelet solitary, pale brown, with a few flowers, the male being uppermost. Stigmas 3. Fruit narrow and pointed, spreading or reflexed when ripe, nearly as long as the spikelet.
1 H. S. Thompson, Liste des Phanirogames et Crypt, vase, recueillis au-dessus de 2440 metres dans les districts du Mont- Cenis, de la Savoie, du Dauphine et des Alpes-Marit. In Bulletin d'Acad. de Geograph. Bot. (1908).
Swamps and peat bogs from the plains to the Alps. May. Rare in Switzerland and common in the Jura.
Central and Northern Europe, Northern and Arctic Asia and America. British.
A slender dioecious species, 6 or 8 inches high, with creeping root-stock. Leaves very narrow, setaceous, tufted and shorter than the stem. Spikelets brown, solitary, the male spikelets being linear and the female shorter and ovoid. Fruits ovoid, with long mucro. Stigma 2. Glumes oval, margined.
Peat bogs and marshes up to about 5500 feet. May, June.
Alps, Pyrenees, Jura, etc., Central and Northern and Arctic Europe; Northern and Arctic Asia and America. British.
Stems 1-3 feet, leafy, trigonous. Rootstock creeping. Leaves broad, flat. Spikelets in an elongated head, sub-distichous, 1-2 inches long, pale brown, sometimes compound at the base, the upper and lower spikelets usually wholly male. Stigmas 2; bracts small, never leafy. Nut ovoid, ferruginous.
Wet meadows, marshes, and river-sides in the plains and sub-Alps. May.
Europe, Northern Asia, N. America. British.
Rootstock short, horizontal. Stems attaining a foot in height. Leaves much shorter, about 3 mm. broad. Spikelets 4-6, sessile, distinct, but very close together, ovoid, brownish green and glossy, consisting chiefly of female flowers with a few males at the base of each spikelet. Outer bracts like the glumes. Stigmas 2. Fruits flat, winged.
Damp meadows, pastures, and waste places from the plains to the Alps. May, June.
Europe and Northern Asia. British.
The figure gives a young, immature state of the plant.