Dense shrublet up to 10cm tall and 20-30cm across. Leaves elliptic-lanceolate to oblong, cuspidate, ciliate and often glandular-pubescent, l-2cm long. Flowers about 2cm across, pink to purple, rarely white, usually in threes but sometimes more or less, late spring to summer. Eastern Rocky Mountains and High Plains eastwards to Dakota, on rocky and gravelly slopes at 1000-1600m. P.a. var. abdita has more elongated shoots, longer leaves and larger, pungently fragrant flowers. A desirable rock plant. P.a. var. collina is somewhat smaller and more compact in habit with shorter leaves and smaller purple, lavender or pink flowers which in some clones are sweetly scented.
Locklear (2012) recognises the varieties as subspecies along with subsp. alyssifolia.