Road-grass – Eleocharis baldwinii
This plant is also known as slender spikerush, or hair grass. Road-grass, and two or three other species, are also known as the so-called viviparous spikerushes. Emersed, they look like but small but normal spikerushes. In their submersed, free-floating form, though, they are a tangle of long thin branches. Road-grass is a native. It is commonly found in the mud or shallow waters of lake and pond margins. However, it can grow in water several feet deep. Road-grass gets its name because it commonly covers roads, in low-lying areas. Frequently it covers many acres. In its emersed growth form, road-grass grows a few inches above the water or soil. There are many thin, unbranched stems, of various heights. Road-grass has no leaves. The inflorescence of road-grass consists of a single spikelet at the tip of the stem. The very small spikelet is narrowly elliptic and reddish-brown. The spikelet contains 5 to 10 tiny flowers. In its submersed, free-floating form, road-grass looks quite different, with stems branching all over the place. This branching takes place because the plant is viviparous. That is, new plants grow directly from the almost-invisible submersed spikelets. Each new submersed stem produces a new spikelet; and another plant can grow from it. This continues throughout the growing season, producing a tangled mass. Road-grass has two growth forms. Emersed, its erect, leafless stems are unbranched. The stem tips have single spikelets that are small and reddish-brown. Submersed, road-grass is a tangle of highly branched, thin stems. Submersed spikelets are almost invisible.