It is a herbaceous perennial plant growing to 45 cm tall. It has very narrow green or glaucous leaves forming a loosely tufted plant. The flowers are 15–20 mm across, usually pink but may be white and are often spotted white. It has an epicalyx of bracteoles. The calyx tube itself is not scarious at the joints between the lobes. It is a plant of often calcareous grassland but may also be found on rocky ground and occasionally on old mine spoil.