Plants often mat-forming, with extensive rhizomes. Leaves basal; petiole flattened, 1-7 cm; blade rounded or broadly ovate to oblong, 1-7 cm, thin, base truncate, margins coarsely serrate to dentate, sparsely ciliate, surfaces sparsely to ± densely tangled, reddish brown-hairy. Inflorescences 40+-flowered, lax, open thyrses, 10-40(-50) cm, purple-tipped stipitate-glandular. Flowers: sepals spreading, broadly ovate; petals white, sometimes some with 2 faint, basal yellow spots (sometimes fading upon drying), narrowly ovate to elliptic, clawed, 2-4(-5) mm, 2+ times as long as sepals; filaments linear, flattened; pistils distinct almost to base; ovary superior, (to 1/3 adnate to hypanthium). Capsules green, ± purple tinged, folliclelike. Flowering spring-early summer. Moist soil at bases of vertical or overhanging rock outcrops, seeps; 500-1600 m; Ala., Ga., Ky., N.C., Tenn., Va., W.Va. Micranthes careyana is very similar to M. caroliniana; both are in need of study.
Habitally much like no. 9 [Saxifraga caroliniana A. Gray], avg a little smaller; hypanthium free from the carpels; sep erect or eventually ±spreading; pet more nearly oblong or elliptic, scarcely clawed, less prominently spotted; filaments filiform-subulate. Moist, rocky places; mts. of s. Va., N.C., and Tenn. May-July. (Micranthes c.)
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.