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. See comment under 125. Carex xerantica.