Proc. Amer. Acad. Arts 22: 126. 1886.
Plants loosely cespitose; rhizomes horizontally spreading, brown to reddish brown, 20–70 mm, slender. Culms 13–50 cm, scabrous distally; bases (remnants of old leaves) weakly to strongly fibrous. Leaf blades green, 0.7–4.5 mm wide, herbaceous, smooth to scabrous abaxially, smooth to scabrous adaxially. Inflorescences with both staminate and pistillate spikes; peduncles of staminate spikes (0.8–)2.5–20 mm; proximal cauline bracts leaflike, green or reddish brown, shorter than inflorescences. Spikes: proximal pistillate spikes 1–3(–4) (basal spikes 0, rarely 1); cauline spikes overlapping or somewhat separated, with (2–)5–15 perigynia; staminate spikes 8–30 × 1.3–4.1 mm. Scales: pistillate scales pale brown to dark reddish brown or purplish brown, narrow white margins, elliptic to ovate, 2.6–5.4 × 1.2–2.6 mm, equaling perigynia, apex acute to acuminate or short-awned (rarely obtuse); staminate scales with white margins 0.4–0.8 mm wide, lanceolate to obovate, 3.6–6.7 × 1.2–1.7 mm apex obtuse to long-acuminate. Anthers (1.5–)2–3.8 mm. Perigynia yellowish green to pale brown or olive, veinless, obovoid, 2.8–4.6 × 1.5–2.2 mm, as long as wide; beak straight, pale green, occasionally with reddish tinge, 0.4–1.3 mm, weakly ciliate-serrulate, apical teeth 0.1–0.7 mm. Stigmas 3. Achenes dark brown, obovoid to globose, obtusely trigonous in cross section, (1.4–)1.6–2.5 × 1.5–2.2 mm.
Alta., B.C., Man., Ont., Sask., Calif., Colo., Ill., Ind., Iowa, Kans., Mich., Minn., Mo., Mont., N.Dak., N.Mex., Nebr., Oreg., S.Dak., Wash., Wis., Wyo.
Subspecies 2 (2 in the flora).
|1||Proximal cauline pistillate spikes ovoid to short-cylindric, short-pedunculate; peduncles of staminate spikes (3–)4–20 mm; western British Columbia to northern California.||Carex inops subsp. inops|
|1||Proximal cauline pistillate spikes globose to ovoid, sessile; peduncles of staminate spikes 1.2–4.5 mm; east of the Rocky Mountains.||Carex inops subsp. heliophila|