Plants densely cespitose. Culms 18-66 cm. Leaves: sheaths adaxially white-hyaline, often tinged brown distally, summits U-shaped or rounded, sometimes prolonged beyond collar; distal ligules 1-3(-4.5) mm; blades 3-6 per fertile culm, 10-30(-45) cm × 1.5-3.7(-4.9) mm. Inflorescences dense or open, brown and green, 1.2-2.2 cm × (6-)9-18 mm; proximal internode 1-3 mm; 2d internode 1-2 mm, these 2 internodes collectively less than 1/3 as long as inflorescences; proximal bracts bristlelike, shorter than inflorescences. Spikes 4-9, distinct or densely aggregated and individually indistinct, usually ovoid to broadly ovoid, 4.4-10.8 × 2.7-8.4 mm, base and apex acute to rounded. Pistillate scales red-brown or chestnut to coppery, with green, gold, or light brown midstripe, usually ovate, 2.4-3.9 mm, shorter than perigynia, width less than or equal to perigynia, margin white, 0-0.05 mm wide, apex obtuse to acuminate. Perigynia appressed-ascending to ascending-spreading, red-brown, coppery, or chestnut, conspicuously (5-)7-10-veined abaxially, conspicuously 3-8-veined adaxially, veins reaching top of achene, elliptic to lance-ovate, plano-convex to biconvex or, sometimes, flat around achene, (2.9-)3.6-5.4 × 1-2.1 mm, 0.4-0.5(-0.6) mm thick, margin flat, including wing usually 0.2-0.3 mm wide, often incurved adaxially, perigynia then boat-shaped, ciliate-serrulate on distal body; beak coppery or dark brown at tip, occasionally narrowly flattened, cylindric, unwinged, usually less than 1 mm, ± entire for 0.5-0.8 mm, abaxial suture usually with conspicuous white margin, distance from beak tip to achene (1.6-)2-2.3 mm. Achenes narrowly compressed elliptic to ovate-quadrate, 1.2-1.8 × 0.7-1.1 mm, (0.3-)0.4-0.5 mm thick. Fruiting summer. Moist mountain meadows and slopes; 1400-3300 m; Calif., Idaho, Nev., Oreg.