Plants densely cespitose, tuft-forming; rhizomes inconspiuous. Culms 5-30(-40) cm. Leaves involute, 0.25-1.5(-2) mm wide. Pistillate scales light to dark brown, ovate, shorter than to as long as perigynia, apex obtuse to acute, apex and distal margins frequently hyaline, scarious. Perigynia ascending to spreading even reflexed at maturity, light green becoming straw colored, 3-4(-5) (including stipe) × 1-1.3 mm; beak dark brown, much shorter than body of perigynium. Stigmas 2(-3). 2n = 62 (Chukotka). Fruiting Jul-Aug. Moist meadows, stream banks, seeps, snowbeds and areas irrigated by meltwater; 10-4000 m; Alta., B.C. Yukon; Alaska, Calif., Colo., Idaho, Mont., Nev., Oreg., Utah, Wash., Wyo.; Eurasia (Japan, Russia).