The plant is a rosette-forming perennial herb, with leafless, silky, hairy flower stems (10–40 cm or 3.9–15.7 in). The basal leaves are lanceolate spreading or erect, scarcely toothed with 3-5 strong parallel veins narrowed to a short petiole. The flower stalk is deeply furrowed, ending in an ovoid inflorescence of many small flowers each with a pointed bract. Each inflorescence can produce up to two hundred seeds. Flowers are 4 millimetres , 4 bent back lobes with brown midribs and long white stamens. It is native to temperate Eurasia, widespread throughout the British Isles, but scarce on the most acidic soils (pH < 4.5).