Rhizomes 0.5--1 cm. Culms cespitose, stiffly erect, 3--28 cm. Leaves: sheaths reddish; basal leaves (persisting for several seasons,) reddish, exceeding inflorescence to as short as cauline leaves, glabrous; cauline leaves 2--3, reddish, rarely to 6 cm, often reaching or exceeding inflorescence, glabrous. Inflorescences: glomerules 1--4, pedunculate; main branches 1--3(--4), arching in 1 direction, 1--4 cm, terminated by 2--several peduncles each bearing 1--5 flowers; peduncles 2 mm; ; proximal inflorescence bract usually inconspicuous, though variable in size and shape; bracts and bracteoles conspicuous, clear to deep brown, margins lacerate to fimbriate to abundantly ciliate. Flowers: tepals dark brown with clear apex, 1.6--2.6 mm; outer whorl longer than inner whorl; anthers ca. 2 times filament length; stigmas much exceeding styles. Capsules dark brown, ovoid, ± equaling to shorter than tepals. Seeds dark brown, (with tuft of fine tangled hairs), ellipsoid, 0.8--1.2 mm. 2n = 36. Flowering and fruiting late summer. Wet, exposed rocky and sandy hillsides, lichen tundra, and mountain summits; growing where it may be practically only vascular plant; circumpolar; 500--1300 m; Greenland; B.C., Man., Nfld. and Labr. (Labr.), N.W.T., Nunavut, Ont., Que., Sask., Yukon; Alaska, Maine, N.H., Vt.; Eurasia. Basal leaves and cauline leaves (numbering 2 or 3) are reddish and glabrous in Luzula confusa. Inflorescences have 1--3(--4) main branches terminated by 2--several peduncles, each bearing 1--5 flowers. The flowers are characterized by stigmas that much exceed the styles in length.
Densely cespitose, 1-3 dm; basal lvs numerous; cauline lvs 2 or 3, narrowly linear, 1-2(3) mm wide, involute toward the tip; glomerules 2-5, short and head-like, some usually elevated on slender peduncles, or occasionally all sessile and forming a short erect spike; bracts subtending the glomerules short, acute or acuminate; bracts subtending the fls shorter than the fls, conspicuously ciliate; tep mostly brown, 2.5-3 mm, acuminate, with narrow scarious margins, equaling or somewhat exceeding the red-brown fr; seeds ellipsoid, 1-1.2 mm, not appendaged, but with a tuft of minute hairs at base; 2n=36, 48. Alpine and arctic meadows and hillsides; circumboreal, s. to the high mts. of Me. and N.H.
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.