Sp. Pl. 4(1): 298. 1805. 1805
Plants densely cespitose. Culms erect or ascending, 7–52 cm × 0.5–1 mm. Leaves: basal sheaths white or light brown; nonbasal sheaths green, 8–37 mm; blades green, 8–44 cm × 0.8–5 mm, shorter than or overtopping culm, 0.5–1.3(–1.8) times as tall as tallest flowering culm; blades of vegetative shoots 1–3.5 times wider than bract blades. Inflorescences: spikes (2–)4 per culm, scattered; peduncles of pistillate spikes 0.5–10.2 cm; of staminate spike 0.4–8.7 cm. Bracts 2.2–11.4 cm × 1–3 mm. Pistillate spikes: proximal usually basal, erect, ascending, or drooping, short to long pedunclulate, 6–18 × 4–5 mm. Staminate spike 1, linear to linear-clavate, 11–24 × (1–)1.2–2.7 mm. Pistillate scales keeled, 1.8–2 × 1–1.2 mm, midribs green, margins hyaline, apex acute, proximal scales of lateral spikes subtending perigyinia. Staminate scales oblong, 2–3.6(–5.5) × 1–1.5 mm, midribs green, margins hyaline, frequently brown tinged, apex acute. Anthers 2–3.3 mm. Perigynia 3–9 per spike, finely veined, obovoid, 2–4.2 × 1.2–1.8 mm; beak tapering. Achenes obovoid, 1.8–2.8 × 1–1.6 mm, sides plane or slightly concave at maturity, tightly fitting perigynia. Style slender, ascending through entire orifice.
N.S., Ont., Que., Ala., Ark., Conn., D.C., Del., Fla., Ga., Ill., Ind., Ky., La., Maine, Mass., Md., Mich., Miss., Mo., N.C., N.H., N.J., N.Y., Ohio, Okla., Pa., R.I., S.C., Tenn., Tex., Va., Vt., W.Va., Wis., temperate e North America.
Varieties 3 (3 in the flora).
|1||Terminal spike usually surpassing bract blade of distal lateral spike; longest peduncle of staminate spike (6.3–)8.1–15.9 cm; widest leaves 2–2.9(–3.5) mm wide; perigynia 7–10-veined.||Carex digitalis var. macropoda|
|1||Terminal spike usually surpassed by bract blade of distal lateral spike; longest peduncle of staminate spike 0.9–7.2(–11.4) cm; widest leaves 2.7–4.5(–5.3) mm wide; perigynia (8–)11–15-veined.||> 2|
|2||Peryginia 2.5–3.3 mm, apex barely excurved.||Carex digitalis var. digitalis|
|2||Perigynia 3.2–4.2 mm, apex noticeably excurved.||Carex digitalis var. floridana|