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Perennial herb from rhizomes; stems scattered or in small tufts, circular in cross-section, tapered, tough and wiry, emergent for most of their length when growing in water, 10-40 cm tall.
Several, clustered near the base; sheaths persistent; blades firm, deeply grooved to thick and flat, mostly 1-2 mm wide, up to 20 cm long, often much shorter, the lowest ones sometimes reduced to scales.
Spikes (1) 2 to 10, terminal, 1-2 cm long, in compact, unstalked clusters; involucral bracts several, one or more of them short, reddish-tinged, resembling enlarged scales, the principal, longest ones slender, stiff, green, leaflike, 1.5-7 cm long, more or less spreading, sometimes resembling extensions of the stems, but more often diverging at an angle.
Scales numerous, shining brown, largely translucent except for the paler, firm midribs, which may be exserted beyond the scales into short, sharp, slender points, not notched at the tips; perianth bristles 1 to 3 (4), slender and much reduced, finely-barbed backwards, rarely surpassing the middle of the achenes, generally unequal; styles abruptly deciduous; achenes plano-convex, pale, firm-walled, about 2 mm long, the tips not sharp-pointed.
The Eastham (1947) collection from the Fraser River delta was probably an introduction on sand dredgings.
Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia