Enum. Pl. 2: 234. 1805.
Plants perennial, cespitose, 100–150 cm; rhizomes absent. Culms erect to excurvedascending, narrowly linear to ± filiform, terete to obscurely trigonous, leafy, densely so toward base, stiff to rather lax. Leaves overtopped by culm; blades linear, ascending, proximally flat, 1–4 mm wide, apex trigonous, subulate, tapering gradually. Inflorescences: spikelet clusters 1–3(–4), proximal mostly widely spaced, dense, broadly turbinate to hemispheric, to 2 cm broad; leafy bracts subulate, exceeding proximal spikelets, slightly or not exceeding most distal clusters. Spikelets redbrown, narrowly ovoid, (3–)3.5–5 mm, apex acute; fertile scales ovate, 3–3.5(–4) mm, apex acute, mostly with cusp or mucro 0.5–1 mm. Flowers: bristles 5–6, from rudimentary to reaching tubercle tip, or (rarely) beyond, antrorsely barbellate. Fruits 1–3 per spikelet, (1.5–)2–2.2(–2.5) mm; body dark brown with pale center, lenticular, broadly ellipsoid to ± orbicular, (1.3–)1.5–1.7(–1.9) × 1–1.5 mm, margins pale, narrow or narrowly rounded, flowing to tubercle; surfaces dull, minutely longitudinally striate; tubercle compressed, triangular to triangularsubulate, 0.5–0.7(–0.9) mm.
Phenology: Fruiting late spring–fall or all year (south).
Habitat: Sands and peats of interdunal swales, depressions in savannas, open flatwoods, and seep-bog edges
Elevation: 0–100 m
Ala., Fla., Ga., La., Miss., N.C., S.C., Tex., Va., Bermuda, Central America.
In her revision, S. Gale (1944) treated var. distans as the more slender version of the species, one with a smaller inflorescence, more distinctly margined fruit body, and consistently elongate perianth bristles. All those character states appear to vary independently over the total range of the species.