Plants cespitose. Culms acutely angled, 40-140 cm, scabrous. Leaves: basal sheaths brown; sheaths of proximal leaves bladeless, scabrous, fronts red-brown to copper-brown, spots absent, indistinctly ladder-fibrillose, apex U-shaped; blades hypostomic, 13-35 cm × 3-8 mm, papillose abaxially. Inflorescences: peduncle of proximal spike 0.6-3 cm; proximal bract longer than inflorescence, 1.5-6.2 mm wide. Spikes 2-4 pistillate, 1-2 staminate; pendent; proximal pistillate spike 3.1-7.9 cm × 3.6-7.4 mm. Pistillate scales pale to copper-brown; 2.9-6.3 mm (including awn), apex of body truncate, awned, scabrous. Perigynia ascending, pale brown, 1-5-veined abaxially or veinless, scarcely inflated, loosely enclosing achenes, ovoid, 2.5-3.9 × 1.3-2.1 mm, dull, apex acute, papillose over entire surface; beak 0.1-0.3 mm. Achenes not constricted. 2n = 66. Fruiting Jun-Aug. Swamps, floodplain forests, wet meadows, stream edges, margins of lakes and ponds, roadside ditches; 0-500 m; Ala., Del., Fla., Ga., Ky., Md., Mass., Miss., N.J., N.Y., N.C., Pa., R.I., S.C., Tenn., Va. No specimens are known from Connecticut; Carex mitchelliana may be expected to occur there. The species is known from fewer than 100 extinct and extant populations located predominantly along the Atlantic and Gulf coastal plains from Massachusetts to Alabama. Allozyme data demonstrated that the taxon, although not common, is genetically diverse and is closely related to the progenitor of the species complex (L. P. Bruederle et al. 1989).
Much like no. 186 [Carex gynandra Schwein.]; stems 5-8 dm; main lvs 3-8 mm wide; sheaths hispidulous; lowest bract 1-2.5 dm; staminate spikes 1-2, to 5 cm; pistillate spikes 2-4, 3-8 cm, often with some distal staminate fls; pistillate scales with truncate or retuse body, the awn to 4 mm; perigynia 2.5-4 mm ovate to broadly ovate, acute but scarcely beaked, closely enveloping the symmetrical achene, stramineous to light brown, 1-4-nerved on each side; 2n=66. Swamp forests and wet thickets and meadows; Mass. to n. Fla., w. to Pa., Ky., and Ala.; rare. (C. crinita var. m.)
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.