This section is from the book "Sub-Alpine Plants Or Flowers Of The Swiss Woods And Meadows", by H. Stuart Thompson. Also available from Amazon: Sub-Alpine Plants: Or, Flowers of the Swiss Woods and Meadows.
Usually stiff herbs with narrow, grass-like leaves and small herbaceous or dry flowers in terminal clusters. Perianth regular, dry and calyx-like, of 6 segments. Stamens 6, or rarely 3. Styles single, with 3 stigmas. Capsule 1 or 3-celled, opening in 3 valves. Seed small. A family spread over the whole of the globe.
Leaves stiff and glabrous, usually cylindrical, at least at the tips, or grooved. Flowers usually in irregular panicles, unequally branched, with a dry, sheathing bract under each branch, cluster, or flower. Capsule 3-celled. Seeds numerous.
Nearly 200 species, dispersed over the greater part of the globe.
Rhizome creeping, throwing up many tufts. Stems 6-18 inches long, wiry, filiform, pale green, faintly striate. Cyme few-flowered, crowded, pale, small, halfway up the stem. Perianth-segments lanceolate, exceeding the turbinate, obtuse, mucronate capsule. Stamens 6.
Wet, stony places, margins of lakes, etc., in the Alps and sub-Alps. June to August.
Alps, Vosges, Cevennes, Pyrenees, most of Europe; Northern Asia, N. America. Rare in Britain.
A very variable and often quite small annual Rush, pale-coloured; with many stems, often in dense tufts from 1-10 inches high, branching and flowering almost from the base. Leaves chiefly radical, slender, and rather short. Flowers solitary or 2 or 3 together with short leaf-like bracts. Perianth-segments narrow and pointed, pale green, with scarious edges, the 3 outer ones longer than the others. Capsule oblong, shorter than the perianth.
Wet places, spread widely over most of the globe from sea-level to the sub-alpine zone, and flowering all the summer. Abundant in Britain.
Stems 6-18 inches high, erect, slightly compressed at the base, with few leaves near the base, and shorter than the stem, and 1 or 2 leaves higher up, all very narrow and grooved. Flowers singly or in small clusters in a rather loose terminal panicle, shining brown in colour. Perianth-segments obtuse, short. Capsule obtuse, ovoid, with a very short style.
Wet, marshy places, roadsides, etc., up to 6000 feet. June to August.
Europe and Northern Asia. British.
Stem rigid, 8-12 inches high, with a terminal compound panicle. Flowers usually quite distinct. Perianth-segments rather broad, shining brown, with broad scarious borders. Capsule trigonous, barely longer than the perianth. Leaves nearly all radical, numerous, usually not half the length of the stem, very narrow, stiff, but spreading.
Moors and damp heaths from sea-level in England to the Alpine region of Switzerland, often in great colonies. July, August.
Central and Northern Europe, and Northern Asia. Also as a mountain plant in Southern Europe. British.