Plants colonial, long-rhizomatous, arial shoots 2.5-18 cm apart. Culms 30-70 cm, smooth to scabrous distally. Leaves: proximal sheaths bladeless, purple tinged, slender, 1.2-3.5 mm diam.; ligules 0.5-2 mm, wider than long; largest blades green, flat, 5-25 cm × 1.8-3(-4) mm, herbaceous. Inflorescences 5-13 cm, 1.1-2.6 times longer than proximal bract; proximal bracts 3-10.5 cm, sheath 0.5-3 cm, blade 2.5-5.5 cm; pistillate spikes loosely flowered, linear, 1-3.5 cm × 3-5 mm; lateral spikes erect or ascending on stiff peduncles. Pistillate scales mostly white hyaline or purplish brown, apex obtuse or awned. Perigynia ascending to spreading, green to brown, stipitate, 2.5-4 × 1-2 mm, minutely papillose near beak; beak very short, strongly bent. Achenes yellowish brown, 2-2.5 × 1.2-1.4 mm. 2n = 44. Fruiting early summer. Usually dry, calcareous woodlands; 50-1600 m; Ont.; D.C., Ga., Ill., Ind., Iowa, Ky., Md., Mich., Minn., N.Y., N.C., Ohio, Pa., S.C., Va., W.Va., Wis.
From Flora of Indiana (1940) by Charles C. Deam
Rare in the northern counties. So far this species is known in Indiana from three collections only, all by Deam: in a moist red and white oak woods 4 miles northwest of Valparaiso, Porter County, June 2, 1927, in a rich beech-maple woods 1 mile southeast of North Liberty, St. Joseph County, May 23, 1934, and June 13, 1935 and at the base of a sugar maple slope in Steuben County. At the latter locality it was associated with Impatiens biflora, Solidago caesia, Viola canadensis, Smilacina racemosa, Polygonum virginianum, Isopyrum biternatum, and Caulophyllum thalictroides.
Much like no. 112 [Carex tetanica Schkuhr]; rhizomes shallow, stout, reddish; strongly aphyllopodic, with bladeless red basal lf-sheaths; perigynia ±2-ranked, tapering above, at least the lower not overlapping; 2n=44. Lf-mold in rich woods; N.Y. to D.C., w. to Man. and Mo. (C. colorata; C. tetanica var. w.)
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.