Herbs, perennial, cespitose, evergreen. Culms compressed or terete. Leaves basal, bladeless; proximal sheaths 4–6, whitish to straw colored, disintegrating at maturity, distal 1(–2, rarely), blade flat, formed from open, elongated sheath, without ligule or evident midvein, usually 2–5 cm wide. Inflorescences terminal, single spike; bracts spirally arranged, each subtending flower, scalelike. Spikelets 1-flowered; scales 0–1. Flowers unisexual; staminate flowers without scales; pistillate flowers with 1 scale enclosing flower (perigynium), open only at apex; perianth absent; stamens 3; styles deciduous, linear, 3-fid. Achenes sharply trigonous.
"Fls unisexual, each in the axil of a scale, in a solitary terminal spike, the pistillate below the staminate; bract none; stamens 3; ovary surrounded by a perigynium as in Carex, the style and 3 elongate stigmas persistent on the mature trigonous achene; shortly rhizomatous, the flowering culms bearing at anthesis a few imbricate basal sheaths without blades, the uppermost sheath later splitting and elongating to form a large solitary near-basal lf without midvein or sheath. Monotypic."
Clarkson, R. B. 1962. Fraser’s sedge, Cymophyllus fraseri (Andrews) Mackenzie. Castanea 26: 129–136. Reznicek, A. A. 1989. Homology of the leaf in the southern Appalachian endemic Cymophyllus fraseri (Cyperaceae). [Abstract.] Amer. J. Bot. 76(6, suppl.): 267. Thomas, W. W. 1984b. Insect pollination of Cymophyllus fraseri (Andrews) Mackenzie. Castanea 49: 94–95.
|[Greek kyma, wave, and phyll, leaf, in reference to the undulate-margined leaves]|