Plants (10-)20-40(-50) cm; caudices short-branched, thickened, woody. Stems 1-15+ , decumbent to erect, proximally glabrous, sparsely strigose in array. Leaves: basal petiolate to sessile; blades spatulate, 40-120 × 10-30 mm, subcoriaceous, margins crenate, apices acute to obtuse, glabrous; many-leaved rosettes present at flowering; cauline 9-19, sessile; blades similar to basal proximally, becoming oblanceolate distally, reduced to 10 mm, margins entire, apices acute, often heavily resinous. Heads 5-100+, not secund, in paniculiform arrays, or virgate to thyrsiform in robust plants, consisting of axillary and terminal racemiform clusters. Peduncles 3-10 mm (longest), sparsely strigose; bracts clustered near base of heads. Involucres campanulate, 4-7 mm. Phyllaries (15-24 in 3-4 series) unequal, very resinous; outer ovate, obtuse, inner linear-lanceolate, obtuse or acute. Ray florets 4-10; laminae 2-4 × 1-2 mm. Disc florets 10-18; corollas 4.3-6 mm, lobes 0.7-1.5 mm. Cypselae appressed-strigose; pappi 3.5-5.5 mm. 2n = 18. Flowering Jul-Sep. Dunes and headlands; 0-100 m; Calif., Oreg. Solidago spathulata is scattered along the coast in isolated populations. A narrow interpretation of the species is accepted here following G. S. Ringius (1985).