Culms densely tufted, erect, ascending, rarely decumbent, 28-56 cm × 0.7-1.2 mm. Leaves: basal sheaths purple; sheaths 7-54 mm; blades erect or ascending, midrib well developed especially abaxially, 2 lateral veins developed adaxially, flat, 24-48 cm × 5-10 mm, dead leaves lateral to new clumps; blade of owerwintered leaves desnsely papillose abaxially. Inflorescences: peduncles of pistillate spike absent; of terminal spike (0.4-)3.1-5.4(-15.7) cm. Bracts 0.14-0.92 cm × 2-3.5 mm, bract blade of distal lateral spikes linear, narrower than spikes; widest bract blade of distalmost lateral spike 0.5-3.4 mm wide. Spikes usually 4 per culm; lateral spikes 14-45 × 2.2-4.5 mm; terminal spike linear, 12-32 × 2-3.5 mm; exeeding bract blade of distalmost lateral spike. Pistillate scales 3-5 × 1.4-2 mm, apex acute to aristate, awn to 2 mm, serrulate. Staminate scales 7-11 × 1.2-2 mm, margins hyaline or purplish. Anthers 3.2-4 mm. Perigynia 4-16 per spike, loosely overlapping, ratio of longer lateral spike length to perigynia number 1.9-3.4, finely, conspicuously (22-)25-32-veined, oblong-elliptic, 3.6-4.1 × 1.8-2.2 mm; beak slightly curved, 0.8-1.4 mm. Achenes ovate, 3.4-3.8 × 1.6-2 mm. 2n = 34, 36, 38. Fruiting spring. Moist, deciduous or, rarely, mixed deciduous-evergreen forests, around limestone escarpments, washes, sinks, and cave entrances; 200-1100 m; Ala., Ga., Ky., N.C., Ohio, Tenn., Va.
Tufted, 3-7 dm; fertile stems lateral, ascending or decumbent, papillate on the angles; basal sheaths purple; lvs glaucous-green, those of the elongate sterile shoots 5-10 mm wide, of the fertile ones somewhat smaller; terminal spike staminate, 1-3 cm, purplish, on a peduncle 0.5-5 cm; pistillate spikes mostly 3, slender, widely separated but none basal, 1.5-4.5 cm; pistillate scales acute to short-awned; perigynia 4-16, loosely alternating, scarcely overlapping, 3.5-4.5 mm, finely many-nerved as well as 2-ribbed, obtusely trigonous, fusiform, often obliquely so, the short, often ill-defined beak with an oblique, entire orifice; achene trigonous; 2n=34-38. Dry to mesic woods, especially on limestone escarpments; Ky. and w. Va. to n. Ga. and n. Ala. (C. laxiflora var. p.)
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.