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Perennial, tufted herb from short creeping rhizomes; stems 15-60 cm tall, exceeding the leaves.
Sheaths purplish-red towards the bases; blades flat, 2-6 mm wide, the lower ones much reduced.
Spikes 3 to 7, the terminal one with male flowers, the lower spikes 2 to 6, with female flowers, short-stalked, 0.6-2.5 cm long, erect to ascending, rarely nodding; bracts subtending the spikes sheathless, bristlelike to leaflike, about equalling the spikes.
Perigynia broadly egg-shaped, 3.5-4 mm long, 1.8-2 mm wide, pale yellow to purple-black, nerveless, the beaks short, less than 0.5 mm long; female scales lanceolate, nearly as long as and narrower than the perigynia, pointed at the tips, reddish-black, with light brown margins; stigmas 3; achenes 3-angled, 1.5-1.7 mm long.
Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia