Shortstyle onion is perennial plant, 20 to 60 cm tall. It has elongated bulbs, often more than 1 cm long, adjoining rhizomes, at the base thicker. It has two pairs of narrowly linear leaves, 2 to 8 mm wide, flat and obtuse, shorter than flowering stem. Inflorescence is an umbel composed of 7 to 15 pink florets. Shortstyle onion blossoms from June to August. It grows on moist meadows, along streams, rarely on forested slopes; from middle to higher altitude. It ranges in the Rocky Mountains from Montana and Idaho to Utah and Colorado; also in the Bighorn Mountains.
Cheyennes used shortstyle onion to cure carbuncle (purulent inflammation of skin and subcutaneous tissue) before and after its opening. Roots and stems of shortstyle onion were ground fairly and put over the lesion as a poultice. When the carbuncle was opened, the remedy was boiled and the sore was washed with the infusion to clear remaining pus and heal the sore (Grinnell 1923 II: 171–2).