This section is from the book "An Illustrated Flora Of The Northern United States, Canada And The British Possessions Vol1", by Nathaniel Lord Britton, Addison Brown. Also available from Amazon: An Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 Volume Set..
Acaulescent or very short-stemmed herbs, the scapes erect, or when immersed delicate, angular, with a long sheathing bract at the base. Leaves mostly short, spreading, acuminate, parellel-nerved. Head of flowers woolly, white, lead-colored or nearly black. Staminate flowers: Outer perianth-segments 2 or 3, distinct or sometimes connate, the inner united below in a tube, alternate with the outer ones, each with a minute spot or gland near its middle or apex; stamens mostly 4-6, one opposite each perianth-segment, the filaments of those opposite the inner segments the longer; pistil small, rudimentary or none. Pistillate flowers: Outer perianth-segments as in the staminate flowers, the inner indistinct, narrow; stamens wanting; ovary sessile or stalked; style columnar or filiform, stigmas 2 or 3, filiform. Fruit a thin-walled capsule. Seeds oval, covered with minute processes. [Greek, in allusion to the wool at the base of the scape in some species.]
About 200 species, widely distributed, mostly in warm regions. Besides the following, 3 others occur in the southern United States, and 3 in Mexico. Type species: Eriocaulon decangulare L. Leaf-blades as long as the sheaths, coarsely 3-9-fenestrate-nerved; scapes 7-angled; heads 1 1/2"-3" in diameter.
Mature head spheroidal, with a spreading or reflexed involucre; marginal flowers spreading or
Mature head and involucre campanulate; marginal flowers permanently erect.
Leaf-blades shorter than the sheaths, finely 6-20-fenestrate-nerved; scapes 10-12-angled, heads
3"-6" in diameter.
Leaf-blades much longer than the sheaths, finely 10-50-nerved; scapes 10-14-angled; heads 4"-
Stem a mere crown. Leaf-blades pellucid, 3-8-fenestrate-nerved, $'-3' long, usually as long as the sheaths; scapes weak, twisted, about 7-angled, smooth, 1'-8' tall, or when submersed sometimes 4°-10° long; involucral bracts glabrous, or the innermost bearded at the apex, oblong, usually shorter than the flowers; marginal flowers usually staminate; scales of the receptacle spatulate or obovate, abruptly pointed, brown above, white-woolly; staminate flowers about 1 1/4"high; pistillate flowers scarcely more than half as large; perianth-segments white-bearded.
In still water or on shores, Newfoundland to Ontario, Minnesota, Florida and Texas. Europe. July-Oct.
Eriocaulon Parkeri B. L. Robinson, Rhodora 5: 175. 1903.
Stem very short. Leaf-blades pellucid, 7-9-fenestrate-nerved, 1 1/4'-2 1/2' long; scapes rather rigid, mostly 7-angled, smooth, 2-4' tall; involucral bracts glabrous, oval, about as long as the flowers; marginal flowers pistillate; scales of the receptacle glabrous or nearly so; staminate and pistillate flowers about 1" high; perianth-segments of both kinds of flowers glabrous, or obscurely short-pubescent at the apex.
On the shores of the Delaware River, near Camden and Bordentown, New Jersey; Washington, D. C. July-Oct.
Leaf-blades 6-20-fenestrate-nerved, usually shorter than the sheaths and tapering to a long sharp point, rigid, or when submersed thin and pellucid. Stem a mere crown; scapes 6'-3° tall, smooth, flattened when dry, 10-12-angled; involucral bracts rounded, obtuse, scarious, shining, smooth, imbricated in 3 or 4 series; heads 3"-6" in diameter, frequently dioecious; receptacle glabrous; flowers 1 1/2"-2" high.
In still shallow water, southern New Jersey to Florida and Texas. At flowering time the styles and stigmas are much exserted. May-Oct.
Eriocaulon decangulare L. Sp. PI. 87. 1753.
Stems short and thick, 1-2' long. Leaf-blades finely many-nerved, tapering to a blunt point, 6-20' long, 2"-8" wide, usually much longer than the sheaths; scapes stout, rigid, glabrous, 10-14-angled, 1°-3° tall; heads 4"-8" in diameter; involucral bracts ovate, often eroded, denticulate at the apex and pubescent below, imbricated in 4 or 5 series; receptacle pubescent with many-celled hairs; flowers 2" high, densely woolly at the base; scales longer than the flowers, acute, white-bearded; as are the spatulate perianth-segments.
In swamps, southern New Jersey and Pennsylvania to Florida and Texas. June-Oct.