It is a herbaceousperennial plant growing to 45 centimeters tall. It has very narrow green or glaucous leaves forming a loosely tufted plant. The flowers are 15–20 millimeters across and usually pink, but they may be white and are often spotted white. It has an epicalyx of bracteoles. The calyx tube itself is not scarious (papery and membranous) 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. It has been observed to hybridise with introduced Dianthus barbatus, when native.