Rhizomes 2-3 mm thick. Culms 15-22(-30) cm, 2.5-3 mm thick at base. Leaves: sheaths 2-3 cm, fronts often mottled dark brown; blades flattened laterally, with 5-8 conspicuous air cavities, median groove inconspicuous, elliptic in cross section, 10-20(-25) cm × 0.6-1.2 mm. Inflorescences 1.4-2.5 cm × 7-12 mm, staminate portion 2-10 mm. Pistillate scales white medially, 3-5-veined, shorter and narrower than perigynia, leathery, apex acute to acuminate; proximal scales sometimes awned to 4 mm. Anthers 2-3 mm. Perigynia angles veined, shortly 3-10-veined on faces, sessile, broadly elliptic, 5-7 × 3-4.8 mm, base rounded, apex rounded; beak entire; rachilla longer than fruit. Stigmas 1-2 mm. Achenes stalked to 0.15 mm. Fruiting Aug-Sep. Dry rocky or gravel slopes; above 2500 m in Calif., above 2000 m in Oreg.; Calif., Nev., Oreg., Wash. Carex breweri occurs in the Sierra Nevada and Cascade Mountains north to Mt. Hood. A. Cronquist (1969) considered Carex breweri and C. engelmannii conspecific; he distinguished them at the varietal level by a difference in pistillate scale characters. The correlated differences in perigynium shape and veins, the dimensions of most structures, and the foliar anatomy support their retention as distinct species.