Man. S. Calif. Bot., 68, 597. 1935.
Plants perennial; rhizomes 0.5–1 mm thick, scales persistent, 5–8 mm, membranous, not fibrous; resting buds absent (non-resting buds on rhizome apex ellipsoid, 10 × 2–5 mm); caudices present, hard, 1–2 mm thick. Culms markedly arched, not spirally twisted, not contracted near spikelet, when dry usually with several blunt to acute ridges and sulcate, subterete to slightly compressed, to 2 times as wide as thick, 5–15 cm × 0.5–1 mm, firm to hard; culm tufts not proximally bulbous. Leaves: distal leaf-sheaths brown to reddish proximally, stramineous to reddish distally, apex sometimes reddish, membranous to papery. Spikelets 3–6 × 2–4 mm; proximal scale empty, 2.5–4 mm, 1/2 or more as long as spikelet; floral scales 4–9 per spikelet, 3.5–5 × 2 mm. Flowers: perianth bristles 4–7, very unequal, some shorter than 1/2 of achene, stout and smooth, others equaling or exceeding tubercle, very slender and densely spinulose; anthers 1–1.5 mm. Achenes medium brown, equilaterally trigonous to compressed trigonous or some biconvex, 1.5–2.1 × 0.9–1.2 mm, beak 0.2–0.3 × 0.3–0.4 mm. Tubercles 0.25–0.5 × 0.15–0.2 mm.
Phenology: Fruiting summer.
Habitat: Wet meadows in conifer forests
Elevation: 2100–2700 m
Of conservation concern.
Although usually included in Eleocharis quinqueflora, E. bernardina is clearly more like E. suksdorfiana.