Plants densely cespitose. Culms erect or ascending, 7-52 cm × 0.5-1 mm. Leaves: basal sheaths white or light brown; nonbasal sheaths green, 8-37 mm; blades green, 8-44 cm × 0.8-5 mm, shorter than or overtopping culm, 0.5-1.3(-1.8) times as tall as tallest flowering culm; blades of vegetative shoots 1-3.5 times wider than bract blades. Inflorescences: spikes (2-)4 per culm, scattered; peduncles of pistillate spikes 0.5-10.2 cm; of staminate spike 0.4-8.7 cm. Bracts 2.2-11.4 cm × 1-3 mm. Pistillate spikes: proximal usually basal, erect, ascending, or drooping, short to long pedunclulate, 6-18 × 4-5 mm. Staminate spike 1, linear to linear-clavate, 11-24 × (1-)1.2-2.7 mm. Pistillate scales keeled, 1.8-2 × 1-1.2 mm, midribs green, margins hyaline, apex acute, proximal scales of lateral spikes subtending perigyinia. Staminate scales oblong, 2-3.6(-5.5) × 1-1.5 mm, midribs green, margins hyaline, frequently brown tinged, apex acute. Anthers 2-3.3 mm. Perigynia 3-9 per spike, finely veined, obovoid, 2-4.2 × 1.2-1.8 mm; beak tapering. Achenes obovoid, 1.8-2.8 × 1-1.6 mm, sides plane or slightly concave at maturity, tightly fitting perigynia. Style slender, ascending through entire orifice.
Densely tufted, 1-5 dm; fertile stems weak, hispidulous, triangular but not winged; basal sheaths white or light brown; lvs roughened on the margins and hispidulous on the veins toward the tip, those of the sterile shoots 1-5 mm wide, of the fertile ones 1-3 mm; terminal spike staminate, 1.2-5 cm, evidently pedunculate; pistillate spikes 1-3, scattered, 0.6-2 cm, erect to drooping, on short to elongate peduncles, the lowest usually basal; pistillate scales acute; perigynia 3-9, finely many-nerved as well as 2 ribbed, 2-4 mm, obovoid and sharply trigonous, scarcely beaked; achene trigonous; 2n=48. Dry woods; Me. to Fla., w. to Wis., Ill., Mo., and e. Tex.
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.