Family, Sedge. Although possessing no ordinary flowers, the cotton grass is so striking in midsummer, as it dots the swamps and cranberry marshes of Long Island and northward with pure white, cottony-looking balls, it seems worthy to lead the procession of white flowers.

Grasses, sedges, and rushes have blossoms which, taken together, from their arrangement in little spikes, may be called spikelets. In this genus, 2 or 3 flowers spring from the axil of a scaly bract. The spikelets are grouped in terminal, drooping umbels. The underlying scales, at first gray, become brownish. The lower leaves are long, stiff, grass-like, clasping the stem. The upper are just sheaths, without blades. 1 to 3 stamens, and a 1-celled ovary compose the blossom, which, instead of calyx, produces many long slender, soft bristles, giving the cottony look to this sedge. There are several species, mostly from England, which brighten the moors of the mother-country.

Stems of the Sedge Family are solid (rushes and grasses are hollow or filled with pith), square, triangular, or flat.