Syst. Veg 3: 818. 1826.
Plants densely to loosely cespitose; rhizomes ascending or horizontally spreading, reddish-brown to dark reddish purple, 0–70 mm, slender. Culms 10–45 cm, smooth to scabrous distally; bases (remnants of old leaves) slightly or not at all fibrous. Leaf-blades pale to bright green, shorter to longer than culms, 0.8–2.5 mm wide, herbaceous, smooth to scabrous abaxially, papillose to scabrous adaxially. Inflorescences with both staminate and pistillate spikes; peduncles of staminate spikes 0.4–9.9 mm; proximal nonbasal bracts leaflike, shorter than inflorescences. Spikes: proximal pistillate spikes 1–4 (basal spikes 0); cauline spikes overlapping, proximal 2 spikes usually separated by less than 7 mm, with 4–14 perigynia; staminate spikes 5–14 × 0.5–1.8 mm. Scales: pistillate scales pale to dark reddish-brown, with narrow white margins, lanceolate to ovate or obovate, 2.2–3.4 × 0.4–1.8 mm, equaling or exceeding perigynia, apex usually acuminate, sometimes acute or mucronate; staminate scales lanceolate to ovate, 2.8–6 × 0.6–1.9 mm, apex acute to acuminate. Anthers 1.5–2.7 mm. Perigynia pale green, veinless, ellipsoid, 2.3–3.3 × 0.8–1.2 mm, longer than wide; beak straight, pale green, 0.6–1.1 mm, weakly ciliate-serrulate, apical teeth 0.1–0.4 mm. Stigmas 3. Achenes brown, ellipsoid, acutely trigonous in cross-section, 1.2–1.7 × 0.7–1.3 mm.
N.B., N.S., Ont., Que., Ala., Ark., Conn., Del., Fla., Ga., Ill., Ind., Iowa, Kans., Ky., La., Maine, Mass., Md., Mich., Miss., Mo., N.C., N.H., N.J., N.Y., Nebr., Ohio, Okla., Pa., R.I., S.C., Tenn., Tex., Va., Vt., W.Va., Wis., Mexico
Varieties 3 (3 in the flora).
|1||Rhizomes long, horizontally spreading.||Carex albicans var. australis|
|1||Rhizomes short, ascending to erect.||> 2|
|2||Scales from median portion of staminate spike without prominent midrib extending to tip and without minute teeth on midrib (15X); perigynium apical teeth 0.2–0.3 mm; staminate spikes 8.4–11.1 mm.||Carex albicans var. albicans|
|2||Scales from median portion of staminate spike with either prominent midrib extending to tip (and sometimes beyond) or minute teeth on midrib (15X); perigynium apical teeth 0.1–0.3 mm; staminate spikes 2.8–4 mm.||Carex albicans var. emmonsii|