Plants densely or loosely cespitose; rhizomes short, thick or thin. Culms to 90 cm. Inflorescences with 3-7 spikes; peduncles of proximal spikes exserted (0.5-)1 cm; proximal bracts with blades 12-80 mm, sheaths cylindric, 12-58 mm, mouth not purple-banded, 0.6-2 mm wide. Lateral spikes pistillate or androgynous, erect to pendent, purple or purple and brown, 12-32 × 5-10 mm;. Terminal spike staminate, ± erect, 11-66 × 3-8 mm. Pistillate scales red-brown to dark purple with paler midvein, ovate to obovate, 1.9-3.5 × 1-1.7 mm, apex acute or obtuse. Staminate scales gold to purple brown with pale, 2.9-4.5 × 0.7-1.6 mm, midvein ciliate, margins scarious, apex obtuse. Anthers (1.9-)2-3 mm. Perigynia ascending to spreading, green to purple, indistinctly or distinctly 9-20-veined, (3-)3.5-5.5 × 0.9-1.6(-1.8) mm, usually without flat margins around achene, usually glabrous, margins often ciliate-setose distally; beak 0.5-1.5 mm, tip dark purple, often ciliate-setose, distance from perigynium beak tip to achene apex less than 2.5 mm. Achenes ± obovoid, 1.3-2 × 0.7-1.1 mm.