Herbs perennial, 15--35 cm tall. Stems sparsely caespitose, creeping proximally, erect distally, retrorsely purplish red hairy, distally both retrorsely hairy and glandular pubescent, or glabrous throughout. Leaves linear to narrowly lanceolate, 0.5--2.5 cm × 1--4 mm, pilose or glabrous, base cuneate, amplexicaul, margin sometimes ciliate, apex acute or acuminate; leaf axils with dwarf, sterile shoots. Cyme terminal, 3--7-flowered; bracts leaflike, lanceolate, pilose, margin scarious. Pedicel 1--1.5 cm, densely white glandular pubescent. Sepals lanceolate, ca. 6 × 1.5--2 mm, abaxially densely villous, margin membranous. Petals obovate, ca. 2 × as long as sepals, 2-lobed for 1/4--1/3 their length. Stamens shorter than petals. Styles 5. Capsule cylindric, ca. 1.3 × as long as calyx, 10-toothed. Seeds numerous, brown, reniform, slightly compressed, tuberculate. Fl. May--Aug, fr. Jul--Sep. 2n = 36.
Plants forming clumps or mats, rhizomatous, or tufted, taprooted; straggling, creeping shoots usually not well developed. Stems: flowering stems decumbent at base, usually green or straw colored, occasionally purple tinged (in some populations growing on serpentine rocks), 5-20(-30) cm, pubescent and often glandular distally, hairs patent or deflexed; nonflowering winter shoots, when present, elongating, with narrow, oblanceolate leaves; small axillary tufts of leaves always present. Leaves usually not strongly dimorphic; blade lanceolate or oblanceolate to linear, 2-25 × 1-5 mm. Flowers: sepals 3.5-6(-7) mm, midrib visible; petals 7.5-9 mm (-12 mm in western plants), usually remaining ± white when dried; anthers 0.8-0.9 mm. Capsules 7.5-11 × 2.5-4 mm, usually less than 1.5 times as long as sepals, rarely longer. Seeds 0.6-1.1 mm. 2n = 36.