Description: Small annual or perennial monoecious herbs; stem usually short; roots fibrous.
Leaves alternate, sessile, usually forming a basal tuft; lamina linear-triangular to subulate, grass-like.
Inflorescence a head-like cluster at the end of branches, usually longer than the leaves, surrounded by 1 or more whorls of bracts. Flowers very small, actinomorphic or zygomorphic, bracteate, unisexual, 2- or 3-merous. Perianth of 4–6 scarious to membranous tepals in 2 whorls, outer whorl larger and darker than inner whorl. Male flowers with stamens free, 1–6, opposite tepals; anthers basifixed, 1- or 2-locular, introrse, dehiscing by longitudinal slits. Female flowers with ovary superior, 2- or 3-locular, 2- or 3-lobed towards apex; ovules 1 per loculus; style single with 2 or 3 simple or 2-fid stigmatic branches.
Fruit a membranous loculicidal capsule, opening by longitudinal slits; seeds 1 per loculus, globose to ellipsoid.
Distribution and occurrence: World: 13 genera, c. 1200 species, mainly tropical & subtropical regions, especially South America. Australia: 1 genus, 20 species, all mainland States.
Angiosperm Phylogeny Website (Family: Eriocaulaceae, Order: Poales)
Text by B. J. Conn
| One genus in NSW: Eriocaulon|