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Perennial, tufted herb, sometimes forming mats; stems more or less solid, triangular in cross-section, 10-40 cm tall.
Sheaths closed; blades in-rolled, threadlike, 0.2-0.4 mm wide.
Inflorescence of 1 or 2, compact, axillary or terminal heads, the terminal head egg-shaped, the lateral ones remote, nearly unstalked, each head with 2 to 10, reddish-brown to dark brown, erect or ascending spikes, the axillary heads each with 1 to 4 spikes; involucral bracts longer than inflorescence, 1-2 cm long.
Scales translucent on the margins, spirally arranged within the spikes; perianth bristles 6, finely barbed backwards, surpassing the achenes; achenes often obscurely marked with dark horizontal lines, broadest above the middle, conspicuously narrowed towards the bases, 2.5-4.2 mm long, less than 1/2 as wide, capped by tubercles, 1/2 to nearly as long as the achenes.
Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia