Stolons scaly, rooting at nodes or with long-hanging roots. Culms 7.5-76(-100) cm × 0.7-5 mm. Leaves elaminate proximally, laminate distally; blades (33-)50-70(-110) cm × (2-)4.5-5.5(-7) mm. Inflorescences with 1-13 heads, globose to broadly ovoid, 10-23 × 9-19 mm; spikelets 5-many. Spikelets 3-6 × 2.5-6 mm; scales transparent to pale brown with red-brown or purple marks, ovate to oblong, apex acuminate. Achenes pale or red-brown, ovoid or ellipsoid, 2.2-2.8 × 1-1.2 mm; beak to 0.7 mm. Fruiting spring-fall. Lakes and streams, floating, or raft-forming, or along margins; 0-50 m; Ala., Fla., La., Tex.; Mexico; West Indies (Cuba); Central America; South America; Africa. The named variants of Oxycaryum cubense appear to represent extremes of this morphologically plastic species.