Plants with loose, branching system of slender, pale brown rhizomes. Culms very slender, nodding, 15-60 cm, exceeding leaves, scabrid. Leaves: basal sheaths pale brown abaxially, inner band white-hyaline, truncate at summit; ligules broader than long; blades mid to dark green, flat, 15-30 × 0.75-1.5 mm, scabrid. Inflorescences 1.5-2.5 cm × 3-5 mm; proximal bract 5-20 mm; distal bracts scalelike. Spikes 2-4(-5), proximal separate, distal aggregate, globose, 3-5 × 2-4 mm. Pistillate scales white-hyaline with green center, ovate, narrower and shorter than perigynia, apex acuminate. Perigynia 1-6, pale green, often brown or even purplish in age, plump, 2.25-3 × 1.3-1.5 mm, membranous, shiny. Achenes red-brown, oblong-elliptic, 1.5-1.75 × 1 mm, glossy. 2n = 70.
Soft, slender, the stems 1-4 dm, scattered on slender, branching rhizomes; lvs flat, 1-2 mm wide; spikes 2-5, sessile, separate or the upper approximate, 3-6 mm, with 1- (-6) perigynia and 1-3 terminal staminate fls; bract obsolete, or filiform and to 2 cm; scales triangular-ovate, stramineous to white-hyaline except the green midrib, equaling or more often shorter than the perigynia; perigynia ellipsoid, 2-3 mm, densely white-punctate, nearly round in cross-section, the margins appearing merely as 2 stronger nerves, the minute beak 0.2 mm; achene thick-lenticular, filling the perigynium, its style-base semipersistent as a slender apiculus; 2n=70. Bogs and wet woods, usually in shade; circumboreal, s. to Pa., Ind., Minn., Utah, and Calif.
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.