Plants annual or rarely short-lived perennial; taproot filiform to slender. Stems prostrate to erect, much-branched, 5-50 cm, re-trorsely pubescent throughout. Leaves: stipules lanceolate, 1.5-7 mm, apex acuminate, entire; blade linear-oblong to oblanceolate, 3-20 × 0.5-3 mm, herbaceous, apex obtuse to subacute, sparsely antrorsely pubescent. Cymes terminal and lateral, 15-50+-flowered, densely congested, ± spheroid clusters 3-5 mm wide. Flowers 5-merous, cylindric, with enlarged hypanthium and calyx constricted then widening distally, 1.2-2.2 mm, pubescent, sometimes only slightly so, mostly proximally with straight or usually hooked hairs; sepals red-brown, white distally, midrib and lateral pair of veins becoming prominent, linear to oblong, 0.6-1.2 mm, papery, margins white, 0.03-0.1 mm wide, papery, apex terminated by mucro, hood obscure, narrowly rounded, mucro short-conic, 0.05-0.1 mm, glabrous; staminodes triangular, 0.2-0.4 mm; style 1, cleft (2- or 3-lobed) in distal 1/ 5, 0.5-1.3 mm. Utricles ovoid to subglobose, 0.4-0.6 mm, ± smooth, glabrous. Flowering spring-fall. Sandhills, woodlands, fields, clearings, roadsides; 0-100 m; Ala., Fla., Ga., La. The Louisiana record of Paronychia patula, based on a specimen at NY, is questionable.