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 vaginata Tausch, Flora 557. 1821.
Carex vaginata var. altocaulis Dewey, Am. Journ. Sci. (II.)
Glabrous, light green, strongly stoloniferous, phyllo-podic, culms very slender, smooth, weak, diffuse, 6'-2 1/2° high. Leaves l"-2 1/2" wide, much shorter than the culm, the blades of the upper ones and of the long-sheathing bracts usually very short; staminate spike long-stalked; pistillate spikes 2 or 3, distant, slender-stalked or spreading, 4"-12" long, loosely 3-20-flowered; perigynia ovoid-oblong, 3-angled, scarcely inflated, narrowed at the base, faintly nerved, about 2" long, nearly 1" thick, tipped with a beak about one-fourth the length of the body, the orifice purplish-tinged, 2-toothed, oblique; scales oval or ovate-lanceolate, purplish-tinged, acute or the upper obtuse, usually shorter than the perigynia; stigmas 3.
In boggy woods. Labrador to Alaska, northern New England, New York, Michigan, Minnesota and British Columbia, Europe and Asia. June-Aug.
Carex polymorpha Muhl. Gram. 239. 1817.
Glabrous, rather dark green, from matted, elongated, stout rootstocks, culms stiff, aphyllopodic and strongly purplish-tinged at base, strictly erect, smooth or nearly so, i°-2° tall. Leaves flat, 1 1/2"-2" wide, nearly erect, those of fertile culm short; bracts long-sheathing; staminate spike 1 or rarely 2, long-stalked; pistillate spikes commonly 1 or 2, erect, short-stalked, densely 12-25-flowered or sometimes looser at the base, 7"-1 1/2' long, 3"-4" thick, often staminate at the summit; perigynia ovoid-oblong, obscurely 3-angled, 2 1/2" long, 1 1/4" in diameter, the beak one-half as long as the body, the orifice oblique; scales red-brown, obtuse or the lower acute, somewhat shorter than the perigynia; stigmas 3.
Wet meadows or borders of woods, southern Maine to northern New Jersey, south to North Carolina. Local. Ascends to 2000 ft. in Pennsylvania. June-Aug.
Carex plantqginea Lam. Encycl. 3: 392. 1789.
Glabrous, rather dark green, culms slender, erect or reclining, 6-2° long. Leaves of sterile culms 5"-13" wide, persistent through the winter, those of fertile culms with rudimentary blades, the sheaths strongly reddened; bracts short; staminate spike long-stalked, purple; pistillate spikes 3 or 4, erect, widely separated, all stalked, 1' or less long, loosely 4-8-flowered, the stalks of the upper ones enclosed in the sheaths; perigynia oblong-elliptic, short-beaked, many-nerved, 1 1/2"-2 1/4" long, nearly 1" thick, longer than the ovate cuspidate scales; stigmas 3.
In woods, New Brunswick and Ontario to Manitoba, south to North Carolina and Illinois. Ascends to 2100 ft. in Virginia. April-June.