Tufted perennial, 20-40 cm. Rhizome robust, ascending, covered by brown remains of leaf bases. Stem obtusely to acutely trigonous, smooth or scabrous along edges. Leaves equalling or overtopping stem in length; sheaths 20-40 mm, grey-brown, disintegrating into fibres; ligule 0.2-0.3 mm; blades 1-2.5 mm wide, flat, long-attenuate, grey-green, upper side and margins scabrous. Inflorescence of 1 male and 1-2 female spikes below. Bracts as long as their spikes, lowest with sheath to 25 mm. Male spikes 15-30 mm, cylindrical to narrowly ellipsoid, pale to dark brown; male glumes 4-5 mm, apex rounded to truncate, with barbed arista, margins mostly scarious. Female spikes 10-20 mm, cylindrical, erect, peduncle to 20 mm; female glumes 5-6 x c. 2.5 mm, truncate, pale to reddish brown, margins widely scarious, arista 1-1.5 mm, barbed; utricles 3-4.3 x c. 1.5 mm, obovoid, grey-green to brownish, hispid, base contracted to conspicuous, soft stipe, beak c. 0.3 mm, cylindrical, emarginate, hispid, often bright red. Stigmas 3. Nut c. 2.5 x 1.5 mm, including c. 0.2 mm style base and 0.5 mm stipe, obovoid, triangular, tightly filling utricle, yellow-green to light brown.