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Perennial, loosely tufted herb from short rhizomes; stems erect or spreading, 15-75 cm long, often submerged, rooting at the nodes, often also viviparous (producing plantlets in the inflorescence).
Located on the lower part of the stem, nearly circular in cross-section, tapered, the early leaves threadlike, flaccid, other leaves firm and erect, usually submerged, with prominent, complete crosswalls, sheaths open, with short, rounded, ear-shaped lobes.
Inflorescence terminal, 5-15 cm long, in 2 to 6 heads of 3 to 10 flowers, the branches ascending; perianth segments dark brown or reddish-brown, 3-4.5 mm long, narrowly lanceolate, pointed, or short-awned, the inner about the same length as the outer; stamens 6; anthers 0.7-1 mm long, shorter than the filaments.
Capsules, narrowly cylindrical, pointed, 1-1.5 mm longer than the perianth segments, black; seeds spindle-shaped, about 0.6-0.7 mm long, lacking tail-like appendages.
Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia