Plants densely cespitose. Culms (11-)15-55 cm. Leaves: sheath summits U-shaped or rounded, occasionally prolonged to 2.5 mm beyond collar; distal ligules 0.5-2.5 mm; blades 3-5 per fertile culm, 5-18 cm × (1.1-)1.5-2.6(-3.1) mm. Inflorescences dense or loosely aggregated, gold to medium brown or occasionally dark brown, 1.1-2.4 cm × 6.3-14 mm; proximal internode (1.5-)2.5-9.5 mm; 2d internode 1-3 mm; proximal bracts bristlelike. Spikes 4-9, individually distinct or indistinct, usually ovoid, (4.5-)6-10 × (2-)4-6 mm, base usually acute, apex rounded to acute. Pistillate scales gold to dark brown, with whitish to green midstripe, ovate, 1.9-3.5 mm, shorter or slightly longer than perigynia and ± equal in width, margin white, 0-0.2(-0.4) mm wide, apex obtuse to acute. Perigynia ascending to ascending-spreading, straw colored to light brown with green distal margins, conspicuously 0-5-veined abaxially, conspicuously 0-4-veined adaxially, at most 1 vein reaching top of achene, lance-ovate to ovate, plano-convex or flat, usually constricted near base when dry, 2.1-3.6 × 0.8-1.4 mm, 0.4-0.5 mm thick, margin flat, 0.05-0.15(-0.2) mm wide, entire, not usually extending to distal body and beak; beak gold to dark brown at tip, cylindric, unwinged, abaxial suture conspicuously white-margined, or occasionally inconspicuous, distance from beak tip to achene 1-1.6 mm, entire for at least 0.4 mm. Achenes elliptic to quadrate, 1.1-1.4 × 0.7-1 mm, 0.3-0.5 mm thick. 2n = 82. Fruiting summer. Wet meadows, bogs; 900-3400 m; Calif., Oreg.