Plants 20-50 cm. Stems 1-10, decumbent to ascending or erect, red-tinged, sometimes branched, sparsely leafy, ± tomentulose or glabrous, sometimes stipitate-glandular. Leaves: basal blades lanceolate or rarely oblanceolate to narrowly elliptic, 50-300 × 8-30 mm, margins sharply dentate, eciliate, apices acute, spinulose; cauline sessile, lanceolate, bases clasping; faces ± tomentulose to glabrate or glabrous, sometimes stipitate-glandular. Heads (1-)4-20(-50) in corymbiform or paniculiform arrays. Peduncles 0-6 cm. Involucres hemispheric, 7-10 × 10-18 mm. Phyllaries in 3-4 series, linear-lanceolate to lanceolate, 3-11 mm, unequal, bases white-chartaceous, margins entire, eciliate, apices conspicuously green, faces glabrous or tomentulose, rarely stipitate-glandular. Ray florets 18-45; corollas 6-11 mm. Disc florets 20-100; corollas 5-7 mm. Cypselae oblong, 3.5-4.5 mm, 4-angled, faces striate, sericeous; pappi tawny, 5-7 mm. Pyrrocoma lanceolata has the widest range of any species and exhibits much variability in habit and head size. A number of infraspecific taxa have been recognized in the past; only two were retained by R. A. Mayes (1976).