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..2 Heads hard (little compressed by a plant press and feeling hard and knotty when squeezed between finger and thumb); leaves dark green, the tip acute to obtuse; scape sheaths shorter than most leaves; involucral bracts straw-colored, the apex acute; receptacular bracteoles pale, the apex narrowly acuminate; pistillate flower petals adaxially glabrescent; terminal cells of club-shaped hairs of the perianth whitened, the basal cells often uncongested and transparent.
....3 Leaves to 1 cm wide, with acute to rounded tip; heads 7-15 mm in diameter; [widespread in our area]
....3 Leaves to 2 cm wide, with rounded tip; heads 13-20 mm in diameter; [of the East Gulf Coastal Plain, known from Panhandle FL and s. AL]
..2 Heads soft (much flattened by a plant press, and easily compressed when fresh between finger and thumb); leaves pale green, the tip attenuate-subulate; scape sheaths longer than most leaves; involucral bracts gray or dark, the apex rounded or obtuse; receptacular bracteoles gray to dark gray, the apex acute; pistillate flower petals adaxially villous; all cells of club-shaped hairs on perianth white.
......4 Mature heads 10-20 mm in diameter; leaves 5-30 cm long; petals of staminate flowers conspicuously unequal; [plants primarily of seasonally flooded ponds]
......4 Mature heads 5-10 mm in diameter; leaves (1-) 2-5 (-7) cm long; petals of staminate flower nearly equal
1 Receptacle and/or base of flowers glabrous or sparingly hairy; receptacular bracteoles and/or perianth parts glabrous or hairy, the hairs club-shaped, clear or white; heads dark gray or white, 3-4 mm (E. koernickianum, E. parkeri, and E. ravenelii), or 4-10 mm (E. aquaticum and E. lineare) in diameter when in full flower or fruit.
........5 Stamens 6; pistil 3-carpellate
............ 7 Inner involucral bracts, receptacular bracts, and sepals darkened, usually gray to nearly black; young heads dark; seeds very faintly reticulate, not papillate; [of ne. North America]
............ 7 All bracts of staminate and pistillate flowers straw-colored or pale with grayish midzone, sepals of pistillate flowers basally pale, darkening toward the tip to grayish, gray-green, or gray-brown; heads (young and mature) pale; seeds faintly rectangular-reticulate, often papillate in lines; [of the se. Coastal Plain]
............ ..8 Bracts straw-colored, greenish, or light gray to gray, dull, the margins often erose or lacerate, the apex blunt to obtuse; [of tidal waters and large natural lakes of the outer Coastal Plain]
............ ....9 Bracts narrowly ovate to oblong or spatulate, the apex acute; bracts and perianth parts (except sometimes the petals) glabrous; seed conspicuously pale-reticulate
............ ......10 Involucral and receptacular bracts gray (dark, greenish, or brownish gray); petals suborbicular or rhombic, borne on a definite stipe; [AR, OK, TX and disjunct in GA]
............ ......10 Involucral and receptacular bracts blackish (the base pale); petals oblong, sessile or borne on a short stipe; [FL Panhandle]