Plants densely cespitose. Culms 30—85 cm. Leaves: sheaths adaxially white-hyaline, summits U-shaped, prolonged more than 2.8 mm; distal ligules 2—5 mm; blades (2—)3—4 per fertile culm, 10—30(—40) cm × 2—4(—5) mm. Inflorescences open, stiffly erect, green, gold, or pale brown, (2—)2.5—4.5(—6) cm × 9—16 mm; proximal internode 4.5—9 mm; 2d internode (2—)5—9(—11) mm; proximal bracts scalelike, awn shorter than inflorescences. Spikes (3—)4—7, distant, distinct, fusiform, ovoid, or obovoid, 15—27 × 5.5—9 mm, base tapered to attenuate, apex acute or rounded. Pistillate scales whitish green or gold, with greenish to gold midstripe, lanceolate or ovate, 5.8—7.6 mm, ± equaling perigynia, concealing beaks, margin white, 0.2—0.7 mm wide, apex acute to acuminate. Staminate scales with white-hyaline margin (0.2—)0.3—0.7 mm wide. Perigynia appressed to ascending, whitish green to brown, conspicuously 10—19-veined abaxially, conspicuously 4—10-veined adaxially, at least 3 adaxially veins longer than achene, lanceolate to ovate, plano-convex, 6—8 × 1.7—2.4 mm, 0.5—0.9 mm thick, margin flat, including wing (0.2—)0.3—0.5 mm wide, ciliate-serrulate at least distally; beak green, red-brown, brown, or gold, white-hyaline at tip, cylindric, unwinged, ± entire to 1 mm or flat, ± ciliate-serrulate, abaxial suture with conspicuous white margin, distance from beak tip to achene (2.8—)3.2—4.6 mm. Achenes elliptic to ovte-elliptic, 2.2—3 × (1.1—)1.3—1.8 mm, 0.5—0.7 mm thick.
Fruiting summer. Dry to wet meadows, grasslands, open woods; 500 m to timberline; Alta., B.C., N.W.T., Sask., Yukon; Alaska, Ariz., Calif., Colo., Idaho, Mont., Nev., Oreg., Utah, Wash., Wyo.
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