Perennial c. (15–) 20–40 (–50) cm tall; rhizome thin, creeping to ascending; stolons usually absent. Stem erect, often rigid; basal leaves often numerous (few in shaded plants), flat to slightly canaliculate, up to 10–14 cm × 5–6 mm, densely hairy; leaf tip obtuse, swollen. Stem leaves 2–3 (–4), usually 8–13 cm × 3.0–4.5 mm, hairy; leaf tip obtuse. Lower bract herbaceous, c. 6 cm × 1 mm, erecto-patent, exceeding inflorescence, with obtuse tip; upper bracts gradually membranous; middle and upper cluster bracts membranous with long acute tip. Inflorescence erect, usually congested and forming an elongated dense head 2–3 (–5) × 0.7–1.0 cm, very often ±interrupted in lower part and lobulate, composed of 6 to many dense clusters of 8–20 flowers, lower cluster sometimes remote or on a long peduncle at the axil of the upper cauline leaf; peduncle smooth. Bracteoles 2.5–3.0 mm long, white-membranous, long fimbriate-ciliate (whole inflorescence has a hairy appearance). Tepals subequal, lanceolate, (2.4–) 2.8–3.2 mm long, entire or with a few teeth near the apex, acute; outer tepal long acuminate, castaneous brown, whitish bordered or unbordered. Stamens 6; anthers c. 0.6–0.9 mm long, slightly shorter or longer than 0.6–0.7 mm long filaments. Style 0.4–0.6 mm long; stigmas 1.5–2.5 mm long. Capsule ±obovoid, obtuse or very slightly subacuminate, castaneous brown, shorter than tepals; capsule segments 1.9–2.1 × 1.2–1.4 mm. Seeds ±ellipsoidal, castaneous brown, 0.9–1.1 mm long, 0.6–0.7 mm wide, with a broad whitish caruncle 0.10–0.15 mm long. 2n=24 [(Bie 66129, O.Hedberg 1216, herbarium label records; I.Hedberg & O.Hedberg, Bot. Not. 130: 11 (1977)].