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Family: Typhaceae — cat-tail and bur-reed family

Cat-tails and bur-reeds are perennial herbs that grow in fresh to slightly brackish wetlands. The alternate leaves have long, narrow blades with sheathing bases that clasp the stem; in some species of bur-reeds, the leaves are floating. The flowers are unisexual, having either pollen-bearing or ovule-bearing parts, and both types are found on each plant arranged in separate groups, with pollen-bearing flowers positioned above the ovule bearing. The flowers are either arranged in cylindrical or spherical arrays and have either sepals modified into capillary bristles or 3-6 sepal-like tepals. Pollen-bearing flowers have from 1-8 stamens. The ovule-bearing flowers either have 1 carpel that matures as a wind-dispersed follicle or 1-2 carpels that mature as a achene with a persitent beak at the apex. The Typhaceae includes species that were formerly treated in a separate family: Sparganiaceae.

This family’s genera in New England

Visit this family in the Dichotomous Key