Plants cespitose. Culms 15–50 cm, distally slightly scabrous. Leaves 2–4 mm wide. Inflorescences: proximal bracts shorter than or exceeding inflorescences; spikes separate, short-oblong or elongate, 7–20 × 4.5–8 mm; proximal spikes often distant, spreading or pendent, very long-pendunculate; distal spikes erect, pedunculate; lateral (1–)2–3(–4) spikes pistillate, of similar length; terminal spike staminate or with perigynia, neither wholly gynecandrous or androgynous. Pistillate scales brown with hyaline margins, lanceolate, shorter and narrower than perigynia, midvein lighter colored than body, often raised, prominent. Perigynia spreading, green or golden, becoming brown, veinless, elliptic, 2.5–3.5 × 1.5–1.75 mm, apex beakless or abruptly beaked, papillose; beak to 0.2–0.3 mm, truncate, smooth. Achenes nearly filling body of perigynia. 2n = 52.