Plants perennial; taproot stout; caudex much-branched, woody. Stems many, decumbent to erect, usually simple, 10-40 cm, woody, pilose and glandular (rarely eglandular proximally). Leaves in 5-8 pairs, sessile but proximal ones narrowed into pseudopetiole, largest in mid-stem region, reduced proximally, scalelike at base, blade narrowly lanceolate to oblanceolate-elliptic or obovate, 2-6 cm × 3-20 mm, apex acute and acuminate, usually thick, leathery, densely puberulent and viscid-glandular or eglandular. Inflorescences cymose, open or congested, 3-15(-30)-flowered, sometimes compound, leafy. Pedicels to 1(-1.5) cm, shortly pilose, viscid-glandular, flowers sometimes sessile. Flowers: calyx prominently 10-veined, tubular, clavate in fruit, constricted proximally around carpophore, (20-)25-30 × 4-7 mm, papery, densely glandular-puberulent, viscid, veins parallel, green, with pale commissures, lobes narrowly lanceolate, acuminate, 5-8 mm, herbaceous; corolla pale greenish yellow to white, clawed, claw equaling calyx, ligulate, as broad as limb, limb 7-8 mm, deeply laciniate into 6 or more linear lobes, appendages oblong, laciniate, 2 mm; stamens equaling calyx; styles 3, exserted. Capsules equaling calyx, opening by 6 ascending teeth; carpophore ca. 3 mm. Seeds brown, reniform, 1.5-2 mm, margins papillate; papillae large, inflated. 2n = 48. Flowering spring and summer. Rocky ledges and slopes, stream banks, open coniferous woodlands; 1400-3400 m; Calif. Silene parishii varies considerably in pubescence and leaf shape. C. L. Hitchcock and B. Maguire (1947) recognized three varieties on the basis of this variation. However, the characters vary independently and have only a weak geographical correlation. Hence recognition of the three varieties serves little useful purpose.
Silene parishii is confined to the mountains of southern California.