Plants perennial, with numerous, dense basal tufts of leaves; taproot stout; caudex much-branched, woody. Stems erect from some-times decumbent base, little-branched, subscapose with 2-3 pairs of reduced leaves, 10-20(-30) cm, finely retrorse-puberulent proximally, stipitate-glandular and viscid in inflorescence. Leaves: basal petiolate, blade oblanceolate to spatulate, (1.5-)2-5(-6) cm × 2-7 mm, thick and ± fleshy, apex broadly acute, puberulent on both surfaces; cauline blades linear-oblanceolate to linear-lanceolate, 0.5-2 cm × 1-3 mm. Inflorescences open, 1-3(-5)-flowered, bracteate; bracts lanceolate, 2-7 mm, herbaceous. Pedicels erect and straight or slightly deflexed near apex, 5-20 mm, stipitate-glandular, hairs with colorless septa. Flowers: calyx prominently 10-veined, in flower broadly cylindric, 8-10 × 3-4 mm, in fruit becoming campanulate and somewhat contracted at base, 8-12 × 5-7 mm, membranous between veins, margins dentate, hairs with colorless septa, veins parallel, purplish, with pale commissures; lobes ovate, ca. 2 mm, shorter than tube, apex flushed with dark red, shortly apiculate with broad, scarious margins, glandular, puberulent; petals exserted, pink to dusky purple, clawed, claw equaling or slightly longer than calyx, limb 2-lobed, 3-5 mm, each lobe with lateral tooth, tooth usually small, rarely larger and equaling lobes, appendages 2, 0.7-1.5 mm; stamens equaling petals; stigmas 3(-4), equaling petals. Capsules slightly exceeding calyx, ovoid, opening with 6 (or 8) ascending to slightly recurved teeth; carpophore 2-3 mm. Seeds pale brown, reniform, 2-3 mm, sides with close radiating ridges, margins broadened and winglike. 2n = 48. Flowering summer. Loose talus, among boulders in mountains, chaparral, open coniferous forests; 1000-3100 m; Calif., Nev., Oreg. Silene grayi is a small montane relative of S. parryi, but it differs in having small, fleshy leaves (ca. 2-4 cm), most of which are in basal tufts. The seeds are also larger and have a thickened wing. Some plants in the mountains of Washington and Oregon appear to intergrade and need further study.
A hybrid between Silene grayi and S. campanulata has been collected in the Siskiyou Mountains of northern California, an area where both species occur.