Plants annual, densely cespitose; rhizomes obscured among culm bases, 0.2 mm thick, internodes to 4 mm, scales not evident. Culms mostly ascending, 4-angled, sulcate, 5 cm × 0.1-0.2 mm, soft. Leaves: distal leaf sheaths persistent, colorless, translucent, apex narrowly acute. Spikelets ovoid, 2-3 × 1-2 mm, apex blunt; floral scales 10-30, ca. 10 per mm of rachilla, orange-brown to stramineous with broad colorless margin, midrib region stramineous, lanceolate, folded lengthwise, 1.5-2 × 0.8-1 mm, midrib prominent, apex acuminate. Flowers: perianth bristles absent; anthers 0.7-1.2 mm. Achenes whitish, broadly obpyriform, much less than 2 times longer than wide, angles and longitudinal ridges ca. 6, obscure, 0.4 × 0.3 mm, apex blunt, trabeculae 20, indistinct, crowded. Tubercles brownish, not appressed, mostly pyramidal, 0.1 × 0.1 mm. Fruiting winter-spring. Wet soils; of conservation concern; 0-20 m; Tex.; Mexico (Tamaulipas). Eleocharis brachycarpa is unique among the North American members of subg. Scirpidium in its floral scales, which are markedly spreading in fruit, often apparently decussate when pressed, narrowly lanceolate, and folded lengthwise so that they do not press open and flat. It is apparently very rare and local. It is admitted to the flora only on the basis of labels on a paratype (Berlandier 996) and on Berlandier 2426, both of which read 'In locis paludosis - De Matamoros a las Nueces [River, Texas], Ap. 1834.' H. K. Svenson (1929) mistranscribed the locality 'Nueces,' publishing it as 'Mueres.' We have also seen a specimen from Mexico, Tamaulipas, 24 mi. N of San Fernando, edges of resacas, elev. 15 m, 1959, M.C. Johnston 4882C (TEX).