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..
Cat-tail Family. Marsh or aquatic plants with creeping rootstocks, fibrous roots and glabrous erect, terete stems. Leaves linear, flat, ensiform, striate, sheathing at the base. Flowers monoecious, densely crowded in terminal spikes, which are subtended by spathaceous, usually fugacious bracts, and divided at intervals by smaller bracts, which are caducous, the staminate spikes uppermost. Perianth of bristles. Stamens 2-7, the filaments connate. Ovary 1, stipitate, 1-2-celled. Ovules anatropous. Styles as many as the cells of the ovary. Mingled among the stamens and pistils are bristly hairs, and among the pistillate flowers many sterile flowers with clavate tips. Fruit nutlike. Endosperm copious. Only the following genus: