Perennials, c. 20–55 cm tall, loosely caespitose; rhizome creeping, thicker, with internodes of variable length; sterile shoots present. Stem flat, c. 1.5–2.5 mm wide in the middle. Cataphylls (1–) 2, pale brownish to castaneous, loose, usually to 3–5 cm long. Basal leaves 2–4. Cauline leaves 2–3, usually 5–13 cm long, 1.8–3.0 mm wide; sheaths with narrow membranous margins; auricles usually absent, rarely present, short, to 0.2–0.4 mm long, scarious. Lower bract reduced, ±stramineous-greenish, c. 0.6–1.5 cm long, much shorter than inflorescence. Inflorescence decompound, anthelate, of 8–35 (–50) semiglobose to ±obovoid (2–) 4–12 (–20)-flowered heads c. 5–8 mm wide. Tepals ±equal, lanceolate, 2.8–4.1 mm long, acuminate with a subulate mucro, usually dark castaneous or castaneous with central band sometimes greenish; margins narrow, scarious. Stamens 6; anthers c. 1.0–1.5 mm long; filaments 0.4–0.6 (–0.7) mm long; style c. 1.0–1.3 mm long; stigmas c. 1.5–3.0 mm long. Capsule unilocular, ±oblong-ovoid, ±acute, mucronate, c. 2.5–3.0 mm long, castaneous-brown, ±equalling perianth. Seeds ±ovoid, apiculate, c. 0.5–0.6 × c. 0.3 mm, brown, reticulate; appendages absent.
Confined to California. 76: CAL.
76. CALIFORNIA: Calaveras Co., Ebbett's Pass Road, c. 2 km NE of Dorrington Ranger Station, 1600 m, E.K.Balls 11004 (S); Tuolumne Co., Yosemite National Park, Swamp Lake, H.L.Mason 12113 (UC); Tuolumne Co., Mather, P.A.Munz 7362 (UC); San Bernardino Mtns, Vivian Ck, P.A.Munz 7620 (UC); San Bernardino Mtns, Mill Ck, 2350 m, R.F.Thorne 47711 & al. (UC); Riverside Co., San Jacinto Mtns, Hall Canyon, P.Kamb 1165 (UC); Mono Co., Leevining Canyon, 2500 m, J.Clausen 792 (UC).
Bog and marsh margins, sandy flats along streams, conifer forests, usually above 1700 m.
In addition to specimens fully corresponding to the above description, several plants with a more robust habit and well-developed, 0.5–1.2 mm long scarious auricles were found in the UC material (e. g., California, Inyo Co., Black Canyon Spring, V.Duran 1746).