Plants cespitose, short-rhizomatous. Culms 18-80 cm. Leaves 2.5-11.5 mm wide, sparingly scabrous. Spikes 3-7(-9), erect; lateral spikes pistillate with few staminate flowers at base and rarely also at apex, narrowly elliptic, 12-50 × 7-13 mm; terminal spike usually staminate, sometimes gynecandrous, pistillate, or abortive, 6-45 × 2-6 mm. Pistillate scales narrow, with indistinct body, 3.6-9(-11) × 0.1-0.4 mm, apex with long, scabrous awn exceeding perigynium. Staminate scales loosely to irregularly imbricate with tips spreading, linear, 4.3-15 × 0.3-0.8 mm, apex with long, scabrous awn. Perigynia horizontal, 3.5-6 × 1.4-2.6 mm, minutely pustulate; beak 1.3-2.2 mm, smooth. Achenes obovoid, sides strongly concave, 1.4-2.1 × 1-1.4 mm, less than 2 times as long as wide; style deciduous, straight or sinuous.
Carex frankii and the similar C. aureolensis are two of the most easily recognized species of sedge; they are identified by the approximate, erect pistillate spikes and the long-awned pistillate scales that exceed the perigynia bodies.
Stems 2-8 dm, in small tufts on rather short rhizomes, aphyllopodic; lvs to 1 cm wide, the ligule shorter to somewhat longer than wide; terminal spike 0.5-3 cm, usually wholly staminate, rather short-peduncled, often concealed among the pistillate ones, or short-peduncled and exsert; pistillate spikes 3-6, usually approximate or crowded, sometimes separate or the lower remote, cylindric or elliptic, 1.5-3 נ1 cm, very dense, rounded at both ends, sessile or nearly so; bracts lf-like, 2-4 times as long as the infl at least the lower strongly sheathing; pistillate scales with concealed body and an exsert slender awn equaling or surpassing the perigynium-beaks; perigynia obconic, inflated, the body 2.2-3.6 mm, with 2 strong ribs and ca 10-18 fine sharp nerves, depressed-truncate above and very abruptly beaked, the beak 1.3-2.3 mm its teeth 0.5 mm; achene loosely enveloped, obovoid-trigonous, 1.5-2 mm, with a persistent straight style. Swamps and wet woods; Va. to w. N.Y., s. Ont., Mich., and se. Nebr., s. to Ga. and Tex
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.
Not known from the two northern tiers of counties. Except in the lake and prairie areas very common in ditches and low roadsides and on banks of creeks; frequent in swamps, low flat woods, ravines, marshes, and wet fallow fields.