Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 19: 38. 1892.
Herbs, perennial, cespitose, 5–30 cm. Stems compact. Leaves in narrow fans, 4–15 cm; sheaths reddish, soft, papillate; blade deep green, narrowly linear, 0.8–2(–3) mm wide, smooth, margins smooth to papillate. Inflorescences: scape sheaths exceeded by leaves; scapes linear, wiry, terete, (0.25–)0.5–0.8(–1) mm wide, distally with 2–4 ribs, ribs papillate; spikes broadly to narrowly ellipsoid or ovoid, 4–8 mm; fertile bracts 3–4(–4.5) mm, margins erose or minutely fimbriolate, sometimes with narrow reddish border, apex very slightly to slightly keeled. Flowers: lateral sepals slightly exserted, straight, 4.2–4.7 mm, keel scarious, entire or apically lacerate, apex red, narrow, firm; petals unfolding in morning, blade obovate, 3–4 mm; staminodes bearded. Seeds translucent, narrowly ellipsoid, (0.6–)0.7–0.9(–1) mm, finely lined.
Phenology: Flowering summer–fall.
Habitat: Sphagnous bogs, poor fens, acid seeps, shores of glacial lakes, streams, muskegs, or floating bog mats
Elevation: 0–500 m
N.B., Nfld. and Labr. (Nfld.), N.S., Ont., Que., Conn., Maine, Mass., Mich., Minn., N.H., N.J., N.Y., Pa., R.I., Vt., Wis.
Most or all known populations of this species fall within the boundaries of Wisconsin glaciation. The long stems (a trait not known for other North American species) are a response to the burial of the clump bases in deep sphagnum.