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Perennial, clumped herb from short rhizomes; stems triangular with rough edges, 10-65 cm tall, exceeding the leaves.
Sheaths tight, short; blades flat, well distributed along the stem, 3-6 mm wide, the lower ones reduced.
Spikes 3 or 4, the terminal spike with male flowers, the lower spikes 2 or 3, with female flowers (sometimes with male flowers at the tips), unstalked or with short stalks, 0.5-2.5 cm long, erect; lowermost bract subtending the spikes scalelike, sheathless, with black ear-shaped lobes, the upper ones reduced.
Perigynia broadly egg-shaped, 2-4 mm long, 1.2-2.3 mm wide, brownish-green, 3-angled, the angles rounded, smooth to somewhat wrinkled, beakless; female scales egg-shaped, shorter or longer than the perigynia, brownish-red to purplish-black, with lighter 3-nerved centres and translucent margins; stigmas 2; achenes lens-shaped, 1.2-1.7 mm long.
Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia