Perennials or subshrubs, (4-)20-120(-150) cm (bases often woody). Stems usually strictly erect, few-branched, glabrous or hispidulous, villous, or tomentose, usually gland-dotted (sessile or slightly sunken in pits), sometimes stipitate-glandular, rarely eglandular, often resinous. Leaves mostly cauline; alternate; sessile; blades 1-nerved, linear to oblanceolate or obovate, margins entire or toothed to pinnatifid (teeth or lobes often spinulose-tipped), faces glabrous or hispidulous, villous, or tomentose, usually gland-dotted (in pits). Heads discoid, (sessile or subsessile) in compact clusters borne in terminal corymbiform arrays, rarely borne singly. Involucres obconic to turbinate or campanulate, (3-9.5 ×) 2-8 mm. Phyllaries 15-30 in (3-)4-6 series, 1-nerved (midnerves usually barely evident; flat to convex), oblong- to elliptic-lanceolate, unequal, margins narrowly scarious, apices sometimes green, faces glabrous or tomentose, sometimes gland-dotted, sometimes with resin pockets. Receptacles flat, pitted, epaleate. Disc florets 8-34, bisexual, fertile; corollas yellow with dark orange-resinous veins, tubes (with at least a few glandular hairs) longer than abruptly ampliate, goblet-shaped throats (tube elevating corollas above involucres at flowering), lobes 5, erect, deltate (elongating at maturity, unequal, outer prominently bent or leaning outward, abruptly enlarged); style-branch appendages narrowly triangular. Cypselae (brownish) obpyramidal, terete or subterete, 5-11-ribbed (sometimes thick and resinous), faces sericeous; pappi persistent, of 40-50 unevenly thick, unequal, barbellate, apically attenuate bristles in 2(-3) series. x = 6.
Isocoma is recognized by its subshrubby habit, gland-dotted (sometimes stipitate-glandular), often resinous leaves, compactly clustered discoid heads in terminal, corymbiform arrays, goblet-shaped disc corollas, and base chromosome number of x = 6. H. M. Hall (1928) regarded the group as a section of Haplopappus, as did A. Cronquist (1994). Naturally occurring hybrids in south-central Mexico have been observed between Isocoma veneta (Kunth) Greene and Xanthocephalum humile (Kunth) Bentham (R. L. Hartman and M. A. Lane 1991).
This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services [MG-70-19-0057-19].