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Perennial, densely tufted herb from long, creeping rhizomes and fibrous roots, the roots with soft, reddish-brown hairs; stems 30-150 cm tall, arising a few or many together, longer than the leaves.
Sheaths tight, cross-wrinkled, reddish- to brownish-tinged at the base, the lowest ones breaking into threads; ligules as long as wide, rounded; blades 2 to 5 per stem, flat to channeled, borne on the lower 1/4 of the stem, 3-10 mm wide, the lower ones reduced.
Spikes 3 to 7, the terminal 2 (sometimes 1 or 3) linear, 1.5-6 cm long, long-stalked, with many male flowers, the lower spikes 2 to 4, cylindrical, 1.5-6 cm long, with female flowers, or some with male flowers above the female flowers, these short-stalked, spreading or nodding; bract subtending the lowest spike leaflike, sheathless, longer than the inflorescence, the bracts reduced above.
Perigynia broadly egg-shaped, leathery, 2.2-3.5 mm long, 1-1.2 mm wide, greenish or brownish, biconvex, smooth, faintly nerved, marginally 2-ribbed, the bases round, short-stalked, beakless or short-beaked, the beaks 0.1-0.2 mm long, entire or nearly so; female scales lanceolate, long-pointed or awned, as wide as and much longer than the perigynia, reddish-brown to dark brown, with 3-nerved, lighter centres, with narrow, translucent margins; stigmas 2; achenes lens-shaped, sometimes constricted in the middle, smooth, 1.6-2.2 mm long.
Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia