aka common pipewort; Eriocaulon aquaticum; Eriocaulaceae (pipewort family)
I’m cheating again. Found these plants at the edge of a pond in Nova Scotia. According to the USDA, sevenangle pipewort can be found in Maryland – in Anne Arundel county – and in the District of Columbia, and Fairfax County, Virginia. The Maryland Biodiversity Project lists it in several Eastern Shore and northeastern counties. So it could be in the Potomac gorge. Next year I’m hunting for it.
Sevenangle pipewort is endangered in Indiana and Ohio as well as in Maryland. It ranges as far south as North Carolina, west to Minnesota, north into Manitoba, and all the way east to the Atlantic Ocean.
It’s aquatic: all the leaves grow underwater, and a single hollow (hence pipewort), multi-ribbed (hence sevenangle) stem emerges from the water to support the flower head.
There are other pipeworts, including tenangle and flattened, in the eastern US, about a dozen across North America, and more than 400 species worldwide.