It is a perennial plant that grows between 25 and 100 cm. It prefers grassy places and dry soils, avoiding heavy soils, and flowers between July and September. The flowered head is flatter than similar species Devils bit scabious and Small Scabious. There are 4 stamens in each flower, and 1 notched long stigma.
The fruit is nut like, cylindrical and hairy, 5–6 mm in size.
It has a tap root. The stem has long stiff hairs angled downwards. There are no stipules.
The leaves form a basal rosette, are paired on the stem, the lowest typically 300 mm long, spear shaped, whereas the upper are smaller.