Culms 4.6-34 cm; cataphylls with bulging cells. Leaves: basal sheaths dark brown, tinged red-purple; blades green, exceeding culms, 1-4.3 mm wide, herbaceous, margins green, scabrous. Lateral spikes 1-3, basal, on widely spreading to nodding peduncles. Terminal spikes with staminate portion 2-12-flowered, 3.4-5.6(-6.2) × 0.6-1 mm; pistillate portion 2-3(-4)-flowered. Pistillate scales green, margins hyaline, white or with brown submarginal band, 1.6-2.4 mm wide, not more than 1.5 times as and not concealing perigynia; distal scales with hyaline margins 0.4-0.8 mm wide. Staminate scales white or pale green with subapical brown band, margins connate, enfolding scales above, (1.9-)2.1-3.3 mm, (0.33-)0.4-0.75 length of staminate portion of terminal spike, apex truncate or broadly obtuse. Anthers 0.4-1.5 mm. Perigynia 2-3(-4) per spike, pale green to pale brown, narrowly ovoid, obovoid, or ellipsoid, (4-)4.4-5.6(-6) × 1.6-2.1 mm, tightly enveloping achenes, apex abruptly tapering; beak 1.4-2.3(-2.5) mm, scabrous. Stigmas filiform, flexuous, long, slender, strongly papillose. Achenes brown, subglobose, 2.1-2.5 × 1.6-2.1 mm. Fruiting spring-summer (May-Jul). Mesic deciduous woods, mixed deciduous and juniper woodlands, on lime-rich substrates; 200-500 m; Ala., Ark., Ind., Ky., Mo., Ohio, Okla., Tenn.