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Perennial, tufted herb from short, blackish, fibrous roots; stems 5-35 cm tall, varying in length, densely clustered, usually shorter than the leaves, narrowly winged and roughened on the angles, enlarged below the spikes.
Sheaths tight, translucent below; blades 2 to 4 per stem, deep green, flat, minutely pimpled, borne on lower 1/4 of the stem, 3-5 mm wide, the lower ones reduced.
Spikes 1 to 3, widely separated, from terminal to near basal, 10-15 mm long, with both male and female flowers, the male flowers towards the tips, few, unstalked, inconspicuous, 1-2 mm long, the lower flowers female, 2 to 5, unstalked to short-stalked, erect.
Perigynia broadly egg-shaped, 5-6 mm long, 1.6-2.2 mm wide, green or greenish, not inflated in upper 1/3 of body, smooth, nerveless, stalked, the beaks bidentate, stout, smooth, about 2 mm long; female scales greenish, leaflike, 0.5-2 cm long, 4-5 mm wide when flat, folded and keeled, more or less covering the perigynia, long-pointed, the lowermost the longest; stigmas 3; achenes 3-angled, yellowish-green to blackish, granular, 2.5-3.2 mm long.
This species is closely related to Carex saximontana.
Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia