Plants annual or biennial; taproot slender. Stems erect or ascending to prostrate, branched, 5-60 cm, often retrorsely pubescent on 1 side. Leaves: stipules ovate-lanceolate, 1.5-7 mm, apex acuminate, fimbriate; blade spatulate to oblanceolate or linear-oblanceolate, 3-20 × 1-4 mm, herbaceous, apex acute to obtuse or rounded, glabrous to scaberulous. Cymes terminal, 9-25-flowered, ± compact, forming spheroid glomerules 2-6 mm wide. Flowers 5-merous, ± short-cylindric, with slightly enlarged hypanthium and calyx widening somewhat distally, 1-1.8 mm, sparsely to moderately pubescent proximally with hooked to straight hairs; sepals red-brown (sometimes finely striped or mottled), white distally, midrib obscure, obovate, 0.4-0.8 mm, leathery to rigid, margins white, 0.03-0.1 mm wide, thinly herbaceous, apex broadly rounded, hood broadly rounded, awn or mucro usually absent or minute; staminodes narrowly triangular, 0.3-0.4 mm; style 1, cleft in distal 6, 0.6-0.8 mm. Utricles ovoid to ellipsoid, 0.6-0.8 mm, smooth, glabrous. Flowering year round. Dunes, pine/oak woodland, fields, clearings, roadsides; 0-300 m; Ala., Fla., Ga., S.C. Plants of Paronychia americana with fewer flowers in lax cymes from Florida and Georgia were named subsp. pauciflora, a distinction that we do not feel is worth recognition.