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Perennial, loosely tufted herb from creeping rhizomes, the roots yellow-woolly; stems 10-60 cm tall, arising singly or a few together, equalling the leaves, reddish-tinged at the bases.
Sheaths loose; blades 3 to 5 per stem, flat with slightly rolled-under margins, borne on the lower 1/2 of the stem, 2-4 mm wide, finely and densely white-pimpled below, the lower ones much reduced.
Spikes 2 to 4, the terminal one linear, 12-22 mm long, long-stalked, with male flowers, the lower spikes 1 to 3, with female flowers, cylindrical, 1-2 cm long, 6-8 mm wide, separate, long-stalked, nodding; bracts subtending the spikes greenish, membranaceous and whitish at the bases, the tips bristlelike, sheathless, shorter than the spikes, the upper ones reduced.
Perigynia egg-shaped to narrowly egg-shaped, 3-4.4 mm long, 1.9-2.5 mm wide, pale to blackish-brown, 10- to 15-nerved, densely pimpled, short-stalked, beakless; female scales broadly egg-shaped, usually awn-tipped, narrower and longer than the perigynia, black to dark brown, the centres lighter, tending to wrap around the perigynia below; stigmas 3; achenes 3-angled, short-stalked, smooth, 1.7-2.5 mm long.
Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia