Herbs, forming pulvinate to cespitose maps, usually scapose, 0.2-3 × 0.5-5 dm, floccose to tomentose or lanate. Stems decumbent to spreading, with persistent leaf bases, up to 5 height of plant; caudex stems matted to spreading; aerial flowering stems scapelike, spreading to erect, infrequently decumbent to ascending, slender, solid, not fistulose, 0.03-4 dm, floccose to tomentose or lanate or nearly glabrous. Leaves basal, 1 per node; petiole not twisted or curled, 0.1-10 cm, mostly tomentose; blade oblanceolate to elliptic or spatulate to rounded, 0.2-6 × (0.1-)0.2-1.5 cm, lanate to tomentose or floccose, sometimes less so adaxially, margins plane, occasionally brownish. Inflorescences capitate or rarely umbellate, 0.7-5(-7) × 1.5-5 cm; bracts 3, scalelike, linear to triangular, 0.8-4 mm. Peduncles absent. Involucres 1 per node or (2-)3-15 per cluster, turbinate to turbinate-campanulate, (2-)3.5-5(-8) × 2-4 mm, tomentose to floccose; teeth 5, erect, 0.1-1 mm. Flowers (2.5-)3-6(-7) mm; perianth yellow or white to cream, rose, red, or purple, glabrous; tepals connate proximally, dimorphic, those of outer whorl usually oval to orbiculate, 2-4 × 2-4 mm, those of inner whorl oblanceolate to elliptic, 3-7 × 0.8-1.5 mm; stamens mostly included, 1-3 mm; filaments pilose proximally. Achenes light brown to brown, 2-3 mm, glabrous. Eriogonum ovalifolium is a highly diverse and widespread complex of generally distinct but sometimes intergrading varieties. Several varieties are in cultivation and make worthy additions, especially to the rock garden. The dimorphic nature of the tepals is obvious only in fully mature flowers. In some populations of the more depauperate varieties, such as var. nivale and var. depressum, the tepals may not be as distinctly dimorphic. Nonetheless, the overall aspect of the species is unmistakable.
There are several reports of traditional use of Eriogonum ovalifolium by Native Americans. P. Train et al. (1941) indicated that a decoction of the roots is used in Nevada for colds. R. V. Chamberlin (1911) reported that the Gosiute Indians in southwestern Utah used it in a poultice or wash to treat venereal diseases.
Members of the species are food plants for Bauer's dotted-blue butterfly (Euphilotes baueri).