Plants perennial, cespitose, 60–100(–120) cm; rhizomes absent. Culms leafiest at base, trigonous, slender, somewhat stiff. Leaves exceeded by culms; basal blades spreading, blunt, distal ascending, linear, proximally flat, 2–5 mm wide, apex trigonous, subulate, tapering. Inflorescences: spikelet clusters 3–5 or more, compact, proximalmost widely spaced, turbinate to hemispheric or lobed; peduncles ascending, branches ascending; leafy bracts setaceous at apex, exceeding compounds, setaceous bracts often exceeding ultimate clusters, imparting bristly aspect. Spikelets redbrown, ovoid to lanceoloid, (2.7–)3–4 mm, apex acuminate; fertile scales ovate, 2.5–3 mm, apex acute, shortacuminate, or notched, midrib usually excurrent as cusp or awn. Flowers: perianth bristles 6, not reaching further than fruit midbody. Fruits 1–3 per spikelet, (1.8–)2–2.3(–2.5) mm; body brown, tumidly lenticular, obovoid to suborbicular, 1.4–1.6(–1.8) × 1.2–1.5 mm; surfaces transversely sharply rugose, intervals of rows of vertical, variously rectangular alveolae; tubercle somewhat compressed, triangular to shortconic, 0.5–0.7 mm, shortsubulate, basal rim often present.
Phenology: Fruiting spring–summer(–early fall).
Habitat: Sands, silts, clays, and peats of low meadows, ditches, low clearings, savannas
Elevation: 0–400 m
Ala., Ark., Calif., Del., D.C., Fla., Ga., Ill., Ind., Kans., Ky., La., Md., Mich., Miss., Mo., N.J., N.C., Okla., Pa., S.C., Tenn., Tex., Va., W.Va., West Indies, Central America.
Rhynchospora recognita has larger fruit and tubercles than is consistent with the varietal rank it has held under R. globularis. The two are often observed in the same locality, and in such cases, R. recognita is taller, stiffer, broader leaved, with spikelet clusters wider, denser, and bristlier, and with distinct orange tints in comparison with the darker, less dense, narrower, and less bristly spikelet clusters of plants of R. globularis.