Plants loosely cespitose. Culms 20-70 cm, distally finely scabrous. Leaves 2.5-5 mm wide. Inflorescences: proximal bracts shorter than or exceeding inflorescences; spikes distinct, spreading or the proximal pendent and often separate, elongate, 10-25 × 5-8 mm; lateral 3-6 spikes pistillate, long-pendunculate; terminal spike gynecandrous. Pistillate scales light to dark brown with hyaline margins, lanceolate, longer than and as broad as perigynia, midvein same color as body, inconspicuous or lighter in color, conspicuous, raised, prominent, sometimes short-mucronate. Perigynia ascending, yellow brown or chestnut, veinless, ovate or elliptic, 2.5-3 × 1.5-1.75 mm, apex abruptly beaked, distally papillose; beak 0.4-0.5 mm, bidentate, smooth. Achenes filling proximal 1/2 or less of perigynia. Fruiting Jun-Aug. Forest margins, open woodlands, calcareous ledges, stream banks, lakeshores, wet cliffs, high elevation seeps; 10-1500 m; Alta., B.C., Man., N.B., Nfld. and Labr., N.W.T., N.S., Ont., Que., Sask., Yukon; Alaska, Maine, Mich., N.H., N.Y., Vt. Carex raymondii is a minor variant consisting of specimens with yellow-brown perigynia and light brown scales with midribs lighter in color than the bodies of the scales. The hybrid taxon Carex ×quirponensis Fernald (= C. atratiformis × C. norvegica) is known from Newfoundland and Quebec.
Tufted, phyllopodic, 3-9 dm; main lvs 2-5 mm, much shorter than the slender stems; terminal spike mostly pistillate; lateral spikes 2-5, short-cylindric, 1-2 cm, spreading or drooping, often with a few basal staminate fls; peduncles slender, the lower 1-4 cm, the upper shorter; lowest bract lf-like, about equaling the infl, the upper very small; pistillate scales ovate to oblong, as wide and long or a little longer than the perigynia, dark brown throughout, acute to minutely cuspidate; perigynia elliptic, much flattened, 2.6-3.9 mm, half to two-thirds as wide, sharp-edged at the 2 ribs, otherwise nerveless or nearly so, rounded above to a very short, shallowly bidentate beak. Open meadows and exposed ledges; Lab. to Yukon, s. to the mts. of N. Engl. and the vicinity of Lake Superior.
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.