Rhizomatous. Stems erect, 8–70 cm. Leaves basal and/or cauline; blades 2–6 mm wide. Inflorescence of 3 to 5 overlapping spikes; the lowest bract shorter than the inflorescence. Spikes ascending to erect; the uppermost male; the lower female, subsessile to short-pedunculate, 8–25 mm long, cylindric. Perigynia erect, green to tan, brown above, lanceolate to suborbicular, veinless, glabrous, papillose, 2–3 mm long with a minute beak. Female scales acute to rounded, almost completely blackish, narrower and subequal to the perigynia. Achene 2-sided, smaller than the perigynium (Lesica 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX)
Our plants are varieties bracteosa
(L.H. Bailey) F.J. Herm. and prionophylla
Holm) L.A. Standl.