Culms erect or spreading, (3.1-)8.2-29.7 cm, 0.4-0.9 of total plant height. Leaves: basal sheaths pale to medium brown; blades green, exceeding culms, 1.3-3.2 mm wide, herbaceous, margins green, smooth or slightly scabrous. Lateral spikes (0-)2-4, basal, on widely spreading to nodding peduncles. Terminal spike with staminate portion 3-29-flowered, 3.4-8.6(-10.3) × 0.7-1.4 mm; pistillate portion 3-9-flowered. Pistillate scales green, margins hyaline, white, often with reddish brown tinge, 1.6-2.22 mm wide, not more than 1.5 times as wide as and not concealing perigynia, apex attenuate into green awns; distal scales with hyaline margins 0.3-0.8 mm, apex acute, awnless. Staminate scales green or tinged with brown subapically, 1.4-2.8 × 1.8-2.2 mm, margins free but enfolding scales above, hyaline, white, apex obtuse, erose. Anthers 0.9-1.1 mm. Perigynia 3-9 per spike, pale green to olive or pale brown, unspeckled, narrowly ovoid to lance-ovoid, (4.5-)4.9-5.7(-6.5) × 1.2-1.7 mm, 1.2-2.2 times as long as wide, tightly enveloping achenes, apex gradually tapering; beak (1.7-)1.9-2.6(-2.8) mm, scabrous. Stigmas filiform, flexuous, long, slender, strongly papillose. Achenes brown, oblong, (1.8-)2.1-2.5(-2.6) × (1.2-)1.3-1.5(-1.6) mm. 2n = 62, 78. Fruiting spring-summer (late Apr-late Jul). Acidic, dry mesic, open, oak-dominated woodlands, often on ridges and slopes; 50-900 m; Ont.; Ala., Ark., Conn., Del., D.C., Ill., Ind., Ky., Md., Mass., Mo., N.J., N.Y., N.C., Ohio, Pa., S.C., Tenn., Vt., Va., W.Va. The Carex willdenowii group (C. willdenowii, C. basiantha & C. superata) differs from the other members of the section in having asynchronous spike production, resulting in a protracted fruiting season (R. F. C. Naczi et al. 1998).
From Flora of Indiana (1940) by Charles C. Deam
Common in southern Indiana (mostly in the unglaciated area and the "flats") on dry wooded, especially oak, slopes, generally in poor, sandy, acid soils; rarely in low beech or pin oak woods.
Tufted, the stems weak and slender, 0.5-3 dm, much shorter than the lvs, distally winged triquetrous; main lvs 2-4 mm wide; spikes 1-3, androgynous, the lower widely separated, nearly basal, on long, capillary peduncles; staminate scales obtuse or acute; pistillate scales dilated at base, with hyaline margins, the lowest ±foliaceous, surpassing the perigynium and sometimes the whole spike, the others narrower than the perigynia; perigynia 3-8, green or greenish, 4.5-6 mm, the body obovoid-oblong above the short stipe-like base, nerveless, sharply 2-edged above, tapering into the very rough, triangular-pyramidal beak, which constitutes a third to half of the entire
length; achene rounded-trigonous, with a short stylar apiculus. Moist woods, especially in acid soils; chiefly in the coastal states from Mass. to Ga. and Tex., but also inland to O., Tenn., and s. Ind.
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.