Plants without conspicuous rhizomes. Culms 20-90 cm, 1.7-2.2 mm wide basally, 0.7-1.1 mm wide distally. Leaves: sheaths tight, green, sometimes white spotted, fronts hyaline, sometimes transversely rugose, mouth yellowish and thickened; ligules to 3 mm, usually wider than long; widest leaf blades 2-4 mm wide, papillose adaxially. Inflorescences with 3-10 spikes, 1.5-4 cm × 8-12 mm; proximal internodes equaling or shorter than proximal spikes; proximal bracts less than 2 cm; spikes with 8-20 ascending or spreading perigynia. Pistillate scales hyaline with green, 3-veined center, ovate to ovate-circular, body narrower than and 2/3 to length of perigynium, apex acute or with awn 0.5-1.5(-2) mm. Anthers 1.5-2.3 mm. Perigynia pale green to yellow-brown, 9-15-veined abaxially, margins serrulate distally; beak 0.2-1.2mm, apical teeth 0.2-0.5 mm. Achenes suborbiculate, 1.9-2.2 × 1.9-2.1 mm.
Cespitose; stems slender but stiff and wiry, 2-10 dm, usually much surpassing the lvs; lvs flat but thick, 2-5 mm wide; infl ovoid to cylindric, 2-4 cm; spikes androgynous, ovoid or subglobose, 5-8 mm, densely aggregated but still easily distinguishable, the lower often separated but still overlapping; scales greenish, ovate, acute to acuminate or cuspidate; perigynia 8-20, greenish, 3-4 mm, broadly ovate, planoconvex, half to three-fourths as wide as long and the body often suborbicular, strongly 5-11-nerved dorsally, abruptly narrowed into a rough-margined beak a fourth to a third as long as the body. Dry, sterile or sandy soil, usually in full sun; Me. to Minn., s. to Fla., Nebr., and Tex. Two vars.
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.