Tufted perennial, 20-60 cm. Rhizome short. Stem c. 1 mm in diam., obtusely trigonous, smooth. Leaves from 1/2 to nearly equalling stem lentgh; sheaths 10-50 mm, grey-brown, red-brown punctate between veins; ligule c. 0.3 mm, scarious; blades 3-5 mm wide, flat, soft, upper surface smooth, lower scabrid along slightly recurved margins and along veins esp. towards apex. Inflorescence of 1 male spike, occasionally gynecandrous, and 2-6 female spikes below, upper often imbricate. Bracts from shorter than to overtopping inflorescence, with sheaths to 30 mm. Male spike (5-)10-25 x 2-3 mm, cylindrical to club-shaped, pale brown; male glumes c. 5 x 1 mm, obtuse, scarious. Female spikes 5-25 x 4-6 mm, from erect to slightly drooping, lower with peduncles to 35 mm; female glumes 2-3 x 1-1.2 mm, ovate, acute to truncate with green, barbed arista to 0.5 mm, margins brown scarious; utricles 2.8-3.5 x 1-1.5 mm, green, frequently red-brown punctate between conspicuous veins, beak 0.5-0.8 mm, cylindrical, smooth or veins somewhat barbed, ostiole from obscurely to clearly bidentate, ciliate. Stigmas 3. Nut 2-2.3 x 1-1.3 mm, often with c. 0.2 mm style base and a short stipe, triangular, brown.