Plants perennial, matted; caudex woody. Stems prostrate to ascending, much-branched, 5-60 cm, often retrorsely pubescent on 1 side. Leaves: stipules lanceolate, 2.5-8 mm, apex acute, entire; blade linear to linear-lanceolate or -oblanceolate, 5-30 × 0.5-2 mm, leathery, apex acute, often mucronate, sparsely appressed-pubescent. Cymes terminal, 15-25+-flowered, very compact, forming conspicuous glomerules 10-20 mm wide. Flowers 5-merous, short-cylindric to ovoid, with enlarged hypanthium and calyx cylindric to tapering distally, 3.5-6.5 mm, pubescent with antrorse, slightly spreading, silky hairs; sepals greenish to brownish, veins 3, obscure, ribs absent, narrowly lanceolate, 2-3.2 mm, leathery to rigid, margins translucent, ca. 0.1 mm wide, scarious, apex terminated by awn, hood narrowly triangular, awn straight to slightly divergent, white, 0.9-2 mm, scabrous, spinose; staminodes narrowly triangular, 0.4-0.6 mm; style 1, cleft in distal 6, 1.4-2 mm. Utricles oblong, 1.5-1.8 mm, smooth, pubescent distally. Flowering spring-early fall. On or among rocks; 200-1800 m; Ga., Ky., Maine, Md., Mass., N.H., N.C., Tenn., Vt., Va., W.Va. Plants of Paronychia argyrocoma with glabrous or barely scabrous leaves and glabrous sepal awns have sometimes been recognized as var. albimontana. They are found in both the southern and northern areas of the species range, but, curiously, not in the central portion (M. N. Chaudhri 1968).
Taprooted perennial with numerous retrorsely silky-hairy, simple or forked stems 5-30 cm, forming mats or tufts; lvs 1-3 cm, linear or lance-linear, acute, apiculate, glabrous to silky; stipules silvery-hyaline, lanceolate, acute; fls sessile in dense cymes, subtended and mostly concealed by the conspicuous silvery bracts; cal 3.5-6 mm, appressed-hairy; sep connate at base, hooded above, with a hirsute awn 0.5-1.5 mm; fr membranous, pubescent at the top. Rocky slopes, ridges, or ledges, usually high in the mts; Me., N.H., and Mass. to Va., W.Va., N.C., Tenn., and Ga. July-Sept.
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.