232. Carex spectabilis Dewey, Amer. J. Sci. Arts. 29: 248, plate X, fig. 76. 1836.
Carex invisa L. H. Bailey; C. nigella Boott; C. spectabilis var. superba Holm; C. tolmiei Boott; C. tolmiei var. invisa (L. H. Bailey) Kükenthal
Culms 25–50 cm. Leaves basal and cauline; proximal leaves reduced to sheaths; distal leaves with blades 2–5 mm wide. Inflorescences: spikes separate, oblong or elongate, 8–20 × 3.5–5 mm; lateral spikes 2–4(–9); proximal spikes spreading or pendent, long-pedunculate; distal spikes approximate, erect or spreading, short-pedunculate. Pistillate scales brown or black, midvein prominent, lighter colored than body, conspicuous, lanceolate, shorter or longer than and as broad as perigynia, apex acute or mucronate. Perigynia yellow-green, green, or purple-black, veined or veinless, ovate, 3.5–5 × 1.75–2 mm, smooth; beak 0.4–0.5 mm, entire or deeply bidentate, smooth.
Fruiting Jul–Sep. Moist subalpine and alpine meadows; 300–3500 m; Alta., B.C., Yukon; Alaska, Calif., Idaho, Mont., Oreg., Utah, Wash., Wyo.
Some specimens of Carex spectabilis in Glacier County, Montana, show transitions to C. paysonis.