Plant habit at Atkinson Canyon in the Sacramento Mts., 7/4/05.
Inflorescences at Atkinson Canyon, 7/4/05.
Closer view of spikes at Atkinson Canyon, 7/4/05. In the Flora of North America, the key distinguishes Carex occidentalis and Carex vallicola by the former having pistillate scales at least as long and wide as perigynia, the latter with pistillate scales narrower and shorter than perigynia. However, the description for Carex vallicola states that its pistillate scales can be as long and wide as the perigynia, and the plants I've seen have pistillate scales ranging from shorter and narrower than to wider and longer than the perigynia within a single inflorescence!