Plants densely cespitose; rhizome internodes 1.8-2.5 mm thick. Culms yellow-brown to dark brown at base, 15-60 cm. Leaves: sheaths hispidulous; blades green, widest blades (3-)3.4-5.4(-6.5) mm wide, glabrous abaxially or sparsely hispidulous on midrib. Inflorescences 0.19-0.48 of culm height; peduncles of lateral spikes smooth or barely scaberulous; peduncles of terminal spikes (4.2-)7.5-37(-43) mm, much exceeding lateral spikes; proximal bract with sheath tight, abaxially scabrous, sheath front apex convex, elongated (0.6-)1.6-4.9(-6.6) mm beyond apex; ligules 3.3-5 mm; distal bract usually much exceeding terminal spike. Spikes 3-5, separate or distal 2-4 spikes overlapping; lateral spikes pistillate, with 2-7 perigynia, 6-29 × 3.8-6.8 mm, ratio of spike length (in mm) to flower number = 3.5-4.8; longest terminal spikes 14-34(-42) × 1.3-3(-3.5) mm. Pistillate scales (4.1-)5.6-9.4(-11.6) × 1.6-2.6(-3.3) mm, margins whitish, denticulate, apex with awn 1.1-6.8 mm. Staminate scales 5.2-6.9 × 1.5-1.7 mm. Anthers 3.4-4.2 mm. Perigynia distichously imbricate, 52-59-veined, unwrinkled, obovoid or narrowly obovoid, obtusely triangular in cross section, (4.5-)4.6-5.6(-6.2) × 1.9-2.2(-2.3) mm, (2.1-)2.3-2.8(-3) times as long as wide, dull, base gradually tapered, apex abruptly contracted; beak excurved, (0.5-)0.8-1.3 mm. Achenes obovoid-ellipsoid, 3.2-3.9(-4.2) × (1.6-)1.8-2.1 mm, tightly enveloped by perigynia; stipe bent 45-70°, 0.4-0.6 mm; beak bent more than 90°, 0.3-0.5 mm.
Fruiting spring-summer. Mesic, usually rocky, deciduous forests, usually with highly diverse vascular plant communities, often in calcium-rich loams on slopes above streams; 60-800 m; Ont., Que.; Ala., Ark., Conn., D.C., Ill., Ind., Iowa, Kans., Ky., Md., Mass., Mich., Minn., Mo., N.J., N.Y., Ohio, Okla., Pa., Tenn., Vt., Va., W.Va., Wis.
Carex hitchcockiana is infrequent and local. It often grows with C. albursina, C. jamesii, and C. oligocarpa.
Much like no. 134 [Carex oligocarpa Willd.], brownish at base; lvs wider, to 7 mm wide; sheaths hispidulous; bracts distinctly roughened with short stiff hairs; pistillate scales 4.7-9 mm; perigynia obovoid-fusiform, tapering gradually to the base and abruptly to the straight or minutely outcurved beak, 4.3-5.9 mm, finely many-nerved; achene with a minute, sharply bent beak. Rich moist woods; Mass., Vt., and s. Que. to Minn., s. to Va. and Ark.
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.
In calcareous or neutral soils; common in rich woods and moist ravines and on river banks; rarely in dry, sandy woods. It is often associated with Carex Jamesii, C. oligocarpa, C. blanda, and C. gracillima.