This section is from the book "Sub-Alpine Plants Or Flowers Of The Swiss Woods And Meadows", by H. Stuart Thompson. Also available from Amazon: Sub-Alpine Plants: Or, Flowers of the Swiss Woods and Meadows.
A slender species 6-12 inches high, with narrow linear leaves with yellow-brown sheaths. Stem erect, rough at the edge, bearing 1-3 female, long-stalked spikelets, the upper one usually extending above the white, male spikelet. Stem-leaves are usually no more than long sheaths surrounding the base of the flower-stalks. Bracts oval, acuminate, whitish, as long as the trigonous, greenish fruit, which is finely nerved and beaked.
Mountain woods, especially in limestone districts, as, e.g. near Engelberg. May, June.
Alps, Eastern and Southern France, Cevennes, Corbieres; Central Europe, N. America.
Rootstock creeping, stoloniferous. Stems slender, about a foot high, sometimes more. Spikelets dark brown. Lowermost spikelets usually pendent on longish, delicate stalks. Glumes rusty brown. Fruit elliptical, flat in the anterior part, glabrous, with a short bifid beak.
Shady places in the Alps from about 4000 to 7000 feet. June.
Alps, Jura, Eastern Pyrenees, mountains of Central Europe.
Densely tufted and leafy, from 4-12 inches high, and often yellowish in colour, especially the fruiting spikelets. Leaves flat. Terminal spikelet male. Female spikelets 1-3 sessile or shortly stalked and near the male, and often there is one female spikelet much lower down on a longer stalk. Bracts leaf-like and sheathing at the base. Stigmas 3. Fruits ovoid, distinctly nerved, with a prominent beak.
Damp meadows, peat bogs, etc., in the plains and lower mountains. May to July.
Europe from the Mediterranean to the Arctic regions, Russian Asia, N. America. British.
There are 2 sub-species found in Switzerland:
Carex oederi Retz., with shorter stems and smaller fruits with short beak; and C. lepidocarpa Tausch., with longer inflorescence, male spikelet with long stem, female spikelets distant and fruits with longer beak.