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Annual herb from fibrous roots; stems clustered, decumbent to erect, slender, wiry, 3-30 cm tall.
Few, borne mostly below the middle of the stem; sheaths bladeless, merely abruptly slender-tipped or the upper ones with slender blades sometimes up to 10 cm long.
Spikes 2 to several, terminal, 3-15 mm long, unstalked or short-stalked, egg-shaped or lanceolate, in head-like clusters (that appear to be on the side of the stem) or with 1 or 2 branches to 15 mm long; involucral bracts erect but somewhat incurved, resembling a continuation of the stem, mostly 2-10 cm long, the subsidiary ones below the spikes inconspicuous, rarely as much as 3 cm long.
Scales translucent, the midribs firmer, greenish and extending beyond the tips, 2.5-3.5 mm long; perianth bristles present or absent; achenes nearly equilaterally strongly 3-angled, dark grey brown to blackish at maturity, finely but prominently cross-wrinkled, about 1.4 mm long.
Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia