Plants perennial; caudex branched, woody. Stems pro-cumbent, branched from base, hirtellose; flowering stems 7-45 cm; sterile stems 3-10 cm. Leaves: stipules narrowly lanceolate, 6-13 mm, apex acuminate, often deeply cleft; blade linear, 10-30 × 0.4-1 mm, leathery, apex short-spinose, minutely hirtellous to puberulent. Cymes terminal, 3-10+-flowered, somewhat open to compact, often forming clusters 6-30 mm wide. Flowers 5-merous, narrowly ovoid, with enlarged hypanthium and calyx tapering gradually distally, 2.8-5.1 mm, glabrous to puberulent, especially proximally; sepals brown to yellowish, midrib and lateral pair of veins prominent, lanceolate to oblong-lanceolate, 2-2.9 mm, leathery to rigid, margins whitish, 0.1-0.2 mm wide, papery, apex terminated by awn, hood rounded-triangular, awn curved outward, green to red-brown, ± conic, 0.4-1.1 mm, scabrous, distinct spine absent; staminodes filiform, 0.8-1 mm; style 1, cleft in distal 1/ 5, 1.2-2 mm. Utricles ovoid to obovoid, 1.8-2 mm, smooth, glabrous. Flowering summer-fall. On or among rocks; 700-1300 m; Ala., Ark., D.C., Md., Mo., N.C., Okla., Tenn., Tex., Va., W.Va. Cory established var. scoparia for the western populations to reflect the disjunct distribution. Paronychia dichotoma (Linnaeus) Nuttall (1818), sometimes applied to this species, is a later homonym of P. dichotoma de Candolle (1805); see E. L. Core (1940).
Taprooted perennial with numerous glabrous or rough-puberulent, prostrate to erect stems 1-4 dm; lvs narrowly linear, 2-3 cm נ0.4-0.8 mm, mucronate; stipules entire, hyaline, lance-attenuate, often connate at base; fls numerous in repeatedly forking cymes, sessile, the alternate bracts foliar and provided with a pair of hyaline stipules; sep 3-4 mm; lance-linear, 3- nerved, the awn glabrous, thick, divergent, usually under 1 mm. Open or wooded places, crevices and ledges or rocky places, usually at low altitudes. July-Oct. Our plants, occurring in w. Md., W.Va., and w. Va., are usually low and matted, with numerous sterile shoots, the stems completely glabrous or sometimes minutely puberulent above; these are var. virginica. (P. dichotoma Nutt., non DC.) Another var. occurs in Okla. and Tex.
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.