Herbs, perennial, cespitose, rosulate. Roots branched, dark, not septate, slender, fibrous. Stems sparingly branched, short or elongate. Leaves crowded, in spirals; blade mostly linear, lacunar tissue not evident, base pale, dilated. Inflorescences: scape sheaths tubular, orifice oblique, acute, or 2-cleft; scapes usually several per stem, filiform, glabrous or hairy, hairs neither swollen nor glandular apically; heads white, gray, gray-brown, or brown, ovoid to globose or short-cylindric; receptacle densely pale-pilose; involucral bracts pale to dark, gradate, broad, chaffy, basal ones often reflexed, obscured by inflorescence; receptacular bracts as long as involucral bracts. Flowers: staminate and pistillate on same plants, 3-merous (2-merous in Lachnocaulon digynum); sepals 3, connivent forming club-shaped flower, nearly distinct, spatulate, scarious, apex with club-shaped hairs, surface glabrous or sparsely hairy; petals absent or reduced to small scales or hairs. Staminate flowers: androphore cylindric; stamens (2--)3; apex of staminal column with 2--3 lance-ovoid or peglike, often appendaged glands; filaments adnate to rim of androphore, alternating with glands; anthers 1-locular, 2-sporangiate, dorsifixed, versatile, exserted at anthesis, yellowish or pale. Pistillate flowers: gynophore short; pistil 3-carpellate (2-carpellate in L. digynum); style 1, appendaged at apex, style branches 2--3, 2-cleft, alternating with appendages similar to those of staminate flower.
Fls each subtended and partly enfolded by a small, scarious bract; common receptacle long-villous; sep 3; pet none or vestigial; staminate fls with an androphore bearing (2)3 stamens and as many fringed or entire staminodes; anthers pale, with a single pollen- sac; pistillate fls with a (2)3-locular ovary and (bifid) trifid style, each primary style-branch again bifid; lvs without evident lacunar tissue; roots very slender, fibrous, branched. 7, se. U.S., W.I.
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.