Perennials (5–) 10–35 (–40) cm tall, caespitose, hairy; rhizome short, erect or ascending; stolons absent. Stem thin, nodding in upper part. Basal leaves canaliculate or flat, 5–18 cm long, typically 2.0–2.5 (–4.0) mm wide; cauline leaves (0–) 1 or 2, usually remote, narrow, usually 3.5–7 cm long; all leaves acute, with margins papillose-serrulate. Lower bract usually herbaceous, very narrow, up to 4–5 cm long, shorter than inflorescence; bracts supporting flower clusters linear-lanceolate, pale brownish-membranous, ciliate, up to 1 cm long, usually shorter than clusters. Inflorescence nodding, spike-like, (1.0–) 1.5–5 × 1.0–1.5 cm, of 3–8 elongated clusters, ±interrupted (rhachis visible), rarely compactly congested in high mountain forms (then only 1–1.5 cm long). Bracteoles ±membranous, 1.2–1.5 (–2.0) mm long, ovate, acuminate, ciliate. Tepals ±unequal, ±glabrous (rarely with few teeth or hairs), dark castaneous brown with paler apex and margins; outer tepals usually 2.0–2.4 (–3.0) mm long, lanceolate, acuminate-aristate; inner tepals 1.7–2.1 (–2.4) mm long. Stamens 3, rarely 4–5; anthers 0.3–0.5 mm long; filaments 0.3–0.6 mm long; style 0.1–0.2 mm long; stigmas 0.6–0.9 mm long. Capsules oblong-ovoid, usually ±obtuse, shorter than perianth, paler brown; capsule segments usually 1.5–1.7 (–1.8) × 0.9–1.1 mm. Seeds pale brown, shining, with darker apex, (0.7–) 0.9–1.0 mm long, c. 0.6 mm wide; appendage distinct, yellowish, 0.1–0.2 mm long, sparsely short fibrillate. 2n=24, fide J.H.Beaman, Amer. J. Bot. 49(1): 41–50 (1962), n.v.