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.
Phenology: Fruiting spring.
Habitat: Moist, deciduous or, rarely, mixed deciduous-evergreen forests, around limestone escarpments, washes, sinks, and cave entrances
Elevation: 200–1100 m
Ala., Ga., Ky., N.C., Ohio, Tenn., Va.