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|Subgenus:||Carex subg. Carex|
|Section:||Carex sect. Vesicariae|
This sedge is native to the northern half of North America, including most all of Canada and the northern United States, and down to montane California. It is also found in northern Europe and northern Asia. It is a common plant in many types of wetland habitat.
Carex utriculata produces stems exceeding 1 m (3 ft 3 in) in maximum height from a thick network of long rhizomes. The inflorescence is a cylindrical mass of flowers up to about 40 cm (16 in) long with an accompanying leaf-like bract which is generally longer than the flower spike. Each inflorescence bears up to 200 developing fruits, each enclosed in a shiny green, golden, or brown perigynium.