Plants perennial; rhizomes elongate, nodulose, to 5 mm thick. Culms usually in tufts, erect, slender, 30-60(-70) cm, sometimes appearing weak, glabrous or hairy. Leaves: proximal sheaths purple tinged, the distal rosy red-tinged, usually narrowly winged, ribbed, pubescent or glabrous; contra-ligules ovate; blades linear, ribbed, shorter than or equaling culms, 2-6 mm wide, glabrous or ciliate to scabrous. Inflorescences axillary and terminal, of 2-5 small clusters, 5-20 × 5-10 mm, each with 1-4 spikelets; the lateral on reddish filiform peduncles dilated toward apex, hairy or scabrous on angles; bracts subtending inflorescence leaflike, linear-lanceolate, 3-10 cm, glabrous or ciliate. Spikelets bisexual and staminate, staminate part frequently reduced in bisexual spikelets, purple tinged, 3-8 mm; staminate scales lanceolate; pistillate scales ovate, acuminate. Achenes white or grayish or grayish brown with dark longitudinal bands, ovoid, shorter than scales, 3-4 mm, smooth, shining, apex umbonate; hypogynium golden brown, rather broad, base obtuse-trigonous, supporting 8-9 small, round or elongate, granulose-spiculose tubercles. Fruiting spring-summer. Mixed mesic to xeric woods or glades, wet meadows; 0-500 m; Ala., Ark., D.C., Fla., Ga., Ill., Ind., Ky., La., Miss., Mo., N.C., Ohio, Okla., S.C., Tenn., Tex., Va.; Mexico; Central America (Guatemala, Honduras) Scleria oligantha sometimes extends from its typical wooded habitat to open areas.
From Flora of Indiana (1940) by Charles C. Deam
On dry rocky, open, wooded slopes in three of the Ohio River counties. Very local and only a few plants found.
Slender, 3-8 dm, cespitose from knotty rhizomes; main blades 3-5 mm wide, attenuate, often sparsely villous; cymes often solitary, the lower ones when present long-peduncled, the upper subtended and partly sheathed by foliaceous bracts to 10 cm נ5 mm; pistillate scales ovate, acuminate or short-aristate; achene bright white, ovoid, 3-3.5 mm, apiculate, the short, broad, smooth, brown hypogynium separated from the body by 8 or 9 rounded white tubercles. Wet meadows and woods; C. Amer., Mex., and Puerto Rico, n. to Tex., Mo., Ind., Va., and reputedly N.J.
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.