Culms usually aphyllopodic, without dead leaf remains at base, 20-60 cm. Leaf blades 1-2.5 mm wide, margins involute, scabrid. Inflorescences: proximal bracts 2-6 cm, shorter than inflorescences; lateral spikes sometimes androgynous, 6-20 × 4-8 mm, with 8-30 perigynia; terminal spikes 7-35 × 1.5-2.5(-3) mm. Pistillate scales ovate to ovate-circular, 3-5.5 × 2-3.4 mm, wider and as long as or slightly longer than perigynia, apex obtuse to subacute, sometimes mucronate. Staminate scales obovate, 3-4.5 × 1.4-1.6 mm, apex obtuse, sometimes mucronate. Anthers 2-3 mm. Perigynia 2.5-4 × 1.8-2.6 mm, apex rounded; beak 0.1-0.5 mm.
Stems arising singly or few together from long, creeping rhizomes, 2-6 dm, strongly aphyllopodic; roots covered with a yellowish-brown, felty tomentum; lvs few, 1-2 mm wide, tending to be canaliculate; terminal spike staminate, 1-3 cm; pistillate spikes 1-3, nodding on slender peduncles, occasionally with a few staminate fls at the tip, 1-2.5 cm, the lowest usually subtended by a nearly or quite sheathless leafy bract 2-10 cm; pistillate scales light to dark brown, commonly about as long and wide as the perigynia, obtuse to acute or acuminate; perigynia pale, commonly greenish or stramineous, densely papillate, elliptic to ovate, somewhat compressed, 2-ribbed and with 4-7 ±evident nerves on each face, 2.3-4.2 mm, beakless or with a minute beak to 0.2 mm; achene trigonous, rather loosely enveloped by the distally empty perigynium; 2n=56, 62, 64. Sphagnum-bogs; circumboreal, s. to N.J. (and reputedly Del.), O., Io., and Calif.
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.