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..
Perennial glabrous grasses, with long horizontal rootstocks, flat or involute leaves, and an inflorescence of one-sided spreading or erect alternate spikes. Spikelets 1-flowered, narrow, deciduous, borne in two rows on the rachis, articulated with the very short pedicels below the scales. Scales 3; the 2 outer empty, keeled, very unequal; the third subtending a perfect flower, keeled, equalling or shorter than the second; palet often longer than its scale, 2-nerved. Stamens 3. Styles filiform, elongated. Stigmas filiform, papillose or shortly plumose. Grain free. [Greek, referring to the cord-like leaves of some species.]
First scale awn-pointed, equalling the third; second long-awned.
First scale acute, shorter than the third, usually one-half as long.
First scale strongly scabrous-hispid on the keel.
Leaves 1/2' wide or more, flat.
Leaves 1/4' wide or less.
Spikes ascending or erect; leaves narrow, involute; coast plant.
Spikes appressed; leaves usually flat at the base; western species.
First scale smooth on the keel or occasionally lightly scabrous.
Culms 2°-6° tall, erect, simple, smooth. Sheaths long, overlapping, those at the base of the culm crowded; ligule a ring of hairs; blades 1° long or more, 3"-7" wide, scabrous on the margins, becoming involute in drying, attenuate into a long slender tip; spikes 5-30, 2'-5' long, often on peduncles 1/2'-1' in length, ascending or erect; rachis rough on the margins; spikelets much imbricated, 6"-7" long; outer scales awn-pointed or* awned, strongly hispid-scabrous on the keel; third scale as long as the first, the scabrous midrib terminating just below the emarginate or 2-toothed apex; palet sometimes exceeding the scale.
In swamps and streams of fresh or brackish water, Nova Scotia to Saskatchewan, south to New Jersey, Texas and Colorado. Sometimes glaucous. Called also Fresh-water Cord-grass, Bull-grass, Upland Creek-stuff. Aug.-Oct.