Tufted perennial, 2-45 cm. Stem from obtusely trigonous to almost terete, deeply grooved, grey-green. Leaves 1/4-2/3 of stem length to longer than stem; sheaths 10-30(-40) mm, grey-brown, margin of scarious side concave; ligule c. 0.2 mm; blades 1.5-3(-4) mm, flat, carinate, long-attenuate, margins scabrous towards apex. Inflorescence a single male spike, often androgynous or gynecandrous, with 2-5 female spikes below, overlapping or lowest remote; basal gynobasic female spikes common. Bracts much overtopping inflorescence, patent or sometimes reflexed, lowest with sheath to 10 mm. Male spikes 4-14 x 2-3 mm, fusiform or clavate, light to grey-brown, apex rounded with scarious margin. Female spikes 3-10 x 3-6 mm, globose or short cylindrical, yellow green, erect, lower with peduncle to 10 mm, sometimes androgynous; female glumes 2.1-3.3 x 1-1.1 mm, triangular, upper obtuse, lower acute, light brown, margins more or less scarious; utricles 1.7-3.1 x 1-1.3 mm, obconical, yellow green, slightly inflated, membranous, conspicuously nerved, beak 0.2-1 mm, conical or cylindrical, smooth, mostly not clearly bidentate, ostiole margins scarious. Stigmas 3. Nut 1.6-1.9 x 0.9-1.2 mm, obconical, triangular, dark brown, finely reticulate, with papilla in each areole.