Rush-like perennial plants, with mostly hollow jointed simple or often much-branched grooved stems, provided with a double series of cavities and usually with a large central one, the branches verticillate, the nodes provided with diaphragms. Rootstocks subterranean. Leaves reduced to sheaths at the joints, the sheaths toothed. Sporanges 1-celled, clustered underneath the scales of terminal cone-like spikes. Spores all of the same size and shape, furnished with 2 narrow strap-like appendages attached at the middle, coiling around the spore when moist and spreading when dry and mature, in the form of a cross (elaters). Epidermis impregnated with silica, rough. Prothallium on the surface of the ground, green, usually dioecious.

The family consists of the following genus: