This section is from the book "An Illustrated Flora Of The Northern United States, Canada And The British Possessions Vol1", by Nathaniel Lord Britton, Addison Brown. Also available from Amazon: An Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 Volume Set..
Carex foenea Willd. Enum. 957. 1809.
Rather light green, culm little roughened above, erect or the summit nodding, 1°-3 1/2° tall. Leaves flat, soft, 1"-2" wide, shorter than the culm; bracts very short or wanting; inflorescence usually moniliform or flexuous, not stiff; spikes 4-15, subglobose or short-oblong, narrowed at the base, 3"-9' long, 2 1/2-3" in diameter, silvery green, all separated or the upper contiguous; staminate flowers basal; perigynia ovate, thin, 1 1/2"-2 1/4" long and about 1" wide, wing-margined, strongly several-nerved on both faces, tapering into a short rough 2-toothed beak half the length of body or less; scales silvery hyaline with darker center, ovate, acute to acuminate, about equalling the perigynia in length and concealing them; stigmas 2.
In dry woods, often on rocks, Newfoundland to British Columbia, south to Virginia and Iowa. May-July.
Carex Willdenovii Schk.; Willd. Sp. PI. 4: 211. 1805.
Glabrous and pale green, culms from very short to 10' high, little serrulate. Leaves much elongated, nearly erect, rather stiff, 1"-1 1/2" wide, 4-15' long, very much overtopping the spikes, lowest reduced to bladeless sheaths; spikes 1-5, androgynous, or sometimes completely staminate, 1' long or less, the uppermost on filiform stalks 3'-7 long, the lower often appearing nearly basal, the stalks much shorter; pistillate flowers 3-9; body of the perigynium oblong, smooth, 1"- 11/2" long, rather less than 1" thick, narrowed into a flattened 2-edged rough beak of about its own length; scales acute, acuminate or awned, finely several-nerved, the lower 1 or 2 commonly bract-like and often foliaceous and overtopping the spike; stigmas 3.
In dry woods and thickets, Massachusetts to Ohio, Michigan and Manitoba, south to Florida, Kentucky and Texas. April-July.
Carex Jamesii Schwein. Ann. Lye. N. Y. 1: 67. 1824. Carex Steudelii Kunth, Enum. 2: 480. 1837.
Similar to the preceding species, but the leaves rather narrower, soft, spreading or ascending, very-much surpassing the spikes, the lowest mere clasping sheaths. Spikes androgynous, one or more of them filiform-stalked, the terminal staminate portion very slender, the pistillate flowers usually 2 or 3 and slightly separated; body of the perigynium subglobose, 1" in diameter, contracted at the base, abruptly tipped by a subulate rough beak of more than its own length; lower scales bract-like, foliaceous, commonly much overtopping the spike, the upper shorter and sometimes not exceeding the perigynia; stigmas 3.
In dry woods and thickets, southern Ontario and New York to Michigan and Iowa, south to West Virginia, Missouri and Kansas. April-May.