Culms round or trigonous, filiform, wiry, angles proximal to spike blunt or sharp, 5-22 cm, ± equaling leaves. Leaves: basal leaf sheaths only slightly fibrillose when old; blades bright green, involute-cylindric, quill-shaped, 3-18 cm, 0.2-0.6 mm wide near base. Spike 8-20 × 2-5 mm; staminate portion 4-8(-10) mm. Proximal pistillate scales pale red-brown or golden brown with white or gold margins, broadly obovate, 2-4(-4.7) × 1.7-3.3 mm excluding awns, apex obtuse to awned. Staminate scales red-brown with white margins and pale midstripe, oblong-ovate, apex obtuse. Perigynia 3-9, appressed to ascending, white, usually with golden brown to red-brown area near beak and/or near base, obovate (or elliptic), 2.5-4.4 × 1.2-2 mm, body usually glabrous or sparsely hirsute near base of beak; beak 0.4-0.8(-1) mm, style base not conspicuously exserted from beak; rachilla absent. Achenes obovate to ovate, 1.5-2.7(-3) × (1-)1.2-1.5 mm. Stigmas ± brown.
Fruiting spring-summer. Meadows, dryish areas with subsurface moisture; 100-3800 m; Colo., Idaho, Mont., Nev., N.Mex., Utah, Wyo.