Bot. Taschenb. 1800: 104, plate 7. 1800.
Plants colonial from long-creeping rhizomes. Culms solitary or few together, 5–35(–70) cm, usually not more than 1 mm diam. basally; basal sheaths persistent, brown or reddish, septate-nodulose. Leaves: blades channeled or strongly involute, 3–12 cm; distal leaves usually bladeless with black-tipped sheath. Inflorescences: involucre absent. Spikelets solitary, erect, broadly obovoid to subglobose in fruit, 8–12(–40) mm; scales gray to blackish green; proximal empty scales not more than 7, ovate, 4–10 mm, midrib not reaching tip; distal scales narrower, more attenuate, margins hyaline, not more than 1 mm wide. Flowers: perianth bristles 10 or more, bright white, sometimes red-tinged, 15–30 mm, smooth; anthers 0.5–1.5 mm. Achenes narrowly oblong, 0.4–2.5 mm, apex with subulate beak. 2n = 58.
Phenology: Fruiting summer.
Habitat: Tundra, wet peat, marshy ground, peaty soils, riverbanks, lake and pond shores
Elevation: 0–3000 m
Greenland, Alta., B.C., Nfld. and Labr., N.W.T., Nunavut, Ont., Que., Sask., Yukon, Alaska, Colo., Mont., Utah, Wash., Wyo., Eurasia.
Eriophorum scheuchzeri var. tenuifolium Ohwi does not appear to be differentiated based on the North American specimens examined.