Plants densely cespitose. Culms 30-75 cm. Leaves: sheaths adaxially often tinged brown, summits U-shaped; distal ligules 0.5-2(-3) mm; blades 4-6 per fertile culm, 17-45 cm × 2.5-4.5 mm. Inflorescences open or dense, greenish brown to gold, 2.5-4 cm × 9-20 mm; proximal internode 4-16 mm; 2d internode 2-7.5 mm; proximal bracts leaflike, longer than inflorescences. Spikes 3-8, distant, distinct, fusiform to broadly ovoid or obovoid, 11-21 × 6-9 mm, base acute to attenuate, apex truncate to tapered. Pistillate scales red-brown, red-gold, or gold, with pale brown or whitish midstripe, lanceolate to broadly ovate, 4.3-6.2 mm, shorter and narrower than perigynia, margin white, (0.1-)0.2-0.3(-0.5) mm wide, apex acute to acuminate. Perigynia appressed to ascending, green or gold, usually inconspicuously veined on each face, narrowly ovate to ovate, flat except over achene or ± plano-convex, 5.4-7.2(-7.5) × 2-2.8(-3) mm, 0.5-0.6(-0.7) mm thick, 2.4-2.7 times as long as wide, margin flat, including wing 0.45-0.8 mm wide, ciliate-serrulate at least distally; beak red-gold to red-brown, sometimes white-hyaline at tip, flat, ± ciliate-serrulate, abaxial suture usually inconspicuous, distance from beak tip to achene 2.2-3.6 mm. Achenes oblong to broadly ovate, 1.9-2.7 × 1.4-2 mm, 0.4-0.5 mm thick.
Fruiting late summer-fall. Montane meadows, rocky places; 2100-3500 m; Ariz., N.Mex.; Mexico.