Culms 15-90 cm. Leaf blades 2-4 mm wide. Inflorescences: peduncle of proximal spike 1 cm or longer; proximal bract red-brown at base, 1.5-3 mm wide. Spikes: proximal 3-7 spikes pistillate, 1.5-2.5 cm × 2.5-4 mm; terminal spike staminate. Pistillate scales red-brown or black. Perigynia 5-7-veined on each face, ovoid or ellipsoid, 2-3.5 × 1-1.8 mm; stipe 0.2-0.5 mm; beak red-brown, 0.1-0.5 mm. 2n = 92.
Fruiting Aug. Lakeshores, wet meadows; 0-3000 m; Alta., B.C.; Alaska, Ariz., Calif., Colo., Idaho, Mont., Oreg., Utah, Wash., Wyo.
Carex lenticularis var. lipocarpa is the most abundant member of the species in western North America. It is distinguished from the other western taxa by the green, short-stipitate, ellipsoid perigynia and the elongate inflorescence; it is distinguished from the eastern var. lenticularis by the black scales and the red-brown beak orifice.
Despite the morphologic similarity of Carex lenticularis var. lenticularis and C. lenticularis var. lipocarpa and the apparent intergradation where the two ranges come into contact, there appears to have been some divergence in chromosome numbers.