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Perennial herb from long rhizomes; stems sharply triangular in cross-section with concave sides, when growing in water, stiff and emergent most of their lengths, 40-250 cm tall.
Few, basal, less than 1/2 the length of the stems; sheath orifice often splitting; blades 1 to 3, V-shaped near the base and triangular to asymmetrically flattened on the sides near the tips, smooth or the angles more or less rough near the tips, 2-8 mm wide, 25-200 cm long.
Spikes 2 to 15, terminal, unstalked, 5-15 mm long, 3-5 mm wide in unstalked, headlike clusters; involucral bracts solitary, leaflike, erect or nearly so, resembling an extension of the stem, (1) 3-20 cm long.
Scales bright orange- to red- or purplish-brown or often straw-coloured, with numerous, short, linear marks, 2.7-4 mm long, broadly egg-shaped, smooth or the awns sparsely minutely-spined, deciduously fringed with small hairs, the midribs prominent, mostly paler, the tips awned, rounded to pointed, cleft, the clefts 0.1-0.4 mm deep, the awns somewhat bent, 0.2-0.6 mm long; perianth bristles (2) 5 to 6 (7), orange-brown, minutely spined backwards, slender to stout, about 1/2 as long to equalling the achenes; achenes brown, smooth, glossy, thickly plano-convex or unequally biconvex, or 3-angled, the angles rounded, 1.8-2.5 mm long, the beaks 0.1-0.3 mm long.
Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia