Carex are grass-like plants (see Cyperaceae) all have C3 photosynthesis (Bryson and Carter 1977). Stems often 3-sided, usually solid.
Leaves alternate, grass-like.
Flowers papery, male and female flowers are separate (monoecious) usually on the same inflorescence, the female flower is composed of a sac-like perigynium, without petals or sepals, the top of the perigynium is open and is often extended into a beak that may bear two tooth-like points at its tip; there is also a scale-like bract at the base of each perigynium; the male flowers consist of 3 stamens above a scale-like bract, Male flowers are often in a separate spike at the top of the inflorescence, or sometimes clustered at the top or base of the female flower spikes.
Fruit dry, enclosed in enlarged perigynium; a 1-seeded achene.