Plants densely cespitose. Culms 25-120 cm; vegetative culms inconspicuous with few leaves clustered at apex. Leaves: sheaths conspicuously green-veined adaxially nearly to apex, narrow hyaline band or sharp Y-shaped region at collar, adaxially firm, summits U-shaped, not prolonged; distal ligules 1.5-4.5 mm; blades 3-5 per fertile culm, 9-25 cm × 2-3.5 mm. Inflorescences erect, open, yellow-green to brown, 1.5-4 cm × 4-12 mm; proximal internode 3-12 mm; 2d internode 3-9 mm; proximal bracts scalelike, with bristle tips, shorter than inflorescences. Spikes 2-8, distinct, ellipsoid to globose, 5-13 × 4-6.5 mm, base acute, apex rounded; staminate portion of well-developed spikes less than 2 mm. Pistillate scales white-hyaline or brown, with green midstripe, broadly lanceolate or ovate, 2.5-3.4 mm, longer and narrower than perigynia, apex acute. Perigynia spreading, green to light brown, conspicuously 4-many-veined on each face, winged to base, obovate, flat except over achene or somewhat plano-convex, 2.6-4.5 × 1.5-2.7 mm, 0.3-0.45 mm thick, margin flat, including wing 0.4-0.7 mm wide; beak pale brown at tip, flat, ciliate-serrulate, abaxial suture with white or brown hyaline margin, distance from beak tip to achene 1-2 mm. Achenes oblong, 1.3-1.7 × 0.75-1 mm, 0.3-0.4 mm thick; styles laterally sinuate. 2n = 66. Fruiting early-mid summer. Acidic swamps, low woods, thickets; 0-300 m; Ala., Ark., Conn., Del., D.C., Fla., Ga., Ill., Ind., Ky., La., Md., Mass., Mich., Miss., Mo., N.J., N.Y., N.C., Ohio, Okla., Pa., R.I., S.C., Tenn., Tex., Va., W.Va. Carex albolutescens is easily confused with C. festucacea, which has orbiculate or broadly ovate, plumply plano-convex perignyia bodies, broader (usually more than 1 mm wide), more ovoid achenes, and straight or abaxial-adaxially bent styles (P. E. Rothrock 1991). See note under 146. Carex longii.
Much like no. 84 [Carex longii Mack]., but the perigynium-beak more slender, spreading, its winged margins not reaching the tip; pistillate scales distally flat and acute, the midrib reaching the tip; style laterally flexuous; 2n=66. Swamps and low woods and thickets; Mass. to Ga., w. to s. Mich., s. Ill., s. Mo., La., and Tex. (C. straminea, misapplied)
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.