Culms round or trigonous, filiform, wiry, angles proximal to spike blunt or sharp, 5-35 cm, shorter than or longer than leaves. Leaves: basal leaf sheaths fibrillose when old; blades yellow-green or bright green, involute-cylindric, quill-shaped, 6-25 cm, 0.3-0.7 mm wide near base. Spike 7-30 × 3-7 mm, staminate portion 4-14 mm. Proximal pistillate scales pale red-brown with white or gold margins, broadly obovate, 2.3-4.5(-6.5) × 1.7-4 mm, shorter or longer than perigynia, apex obtuse to short-awned. Staminate scales red-brown with broad, white margins, broadly obovate, apex obtuse. Perigynia (2-)5-18, appressed to ascending, white to gold, obovate to orbiculate, 1.9-4.8 × 1.3-2 mm, body conspicuously hirsute or pubescent, at least distal 1/4 (occasionally only proximal to beak); beak 0-0.8 mm, style base often conspicuously exserted from beak; rachilla present. Achenes obovate to elliptic, 1.5-3.3 × 1.1-1.9 mm. Stigmas ± black.
Very densely tufted, (0.5-)1-3 dm; lvs wiry, involute, acicular, resembling the stems and nearly or fully as long, to 0.7 mm wide; spike 1, the upper half or two-thirds staminate; scales broadly obovate, apically rounded or broadly obtuse, or the lower sometimes cuspidate, the brown, scarious central part fading into the broad white-hyaline margins; pistillate scales equaling or a little longer than the ±concealed perigynia; perigynia 5-15, plump, obscurely trigonous and obscurely several-nerved, puberulent at least above, 3-4.5 mm including the 0.2-0.5 mm beak, filled by the trigonous achene; rachilla half to fully as long as the achene; 2n=50. Dry plains and hills; w. Minn. to Yukon, Wash., Tex., and N.M.
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.