Aerial shoots 7-60 cm, from caudices, caudices ascending to vertical. Basal leaves 3-10, ternate; petiole (2-)4-20 cm; terminal leaflet ±sessile, obtriangular to oblanceolate, (2.5-)3-6(-9) × 2-10 cm, base narrowly cuneate to cuneate, margins incised (sometimes with few serrate teeth) on distal 1/3, apex acute to obtuse, surfaces glabrous or puberulous to villous or pilose; lateral leaflets 1-3×-parted and -lobed; ultimate lobes 3-10 mm wide. Inflorescences 2-8-flowered umbels or flowers solitary; peduncle puberulous to villous or pilose to nearly glabrous; involucral bracts (2-)3, 1-tiered, simple, greatly reduced, otherwise similar to basal leaves, obtriangular, distally 3-cleft and pinnatifid, (1-)1.5-5(-5.5) cm, bases clasping, ±connate, margins incised on distal 1/3, apex acuminate-acute to obtuse, surfaces glabrous or puberulous to villous or pilose; segments primarily 3, subulate or narrowly obtriangular; lateral segments unlobed or 2-3×-parted and -lobed; ultimate lobes 3-10 mm wide. Flowers: sepals 5-9, white or yellow, or abaxially white, tinged blue, white, or blue, and adaxially white, ovate to rhombic or obovate, 8-20 × 5-13(-15) mm, glabrous; stamens 40-80(-100). Heads of achenes spheric; pedicel (4.5-)5-14(-18.5) cm. Achenes: body ellipsoid to ovate, flat, 5-9 × (3-)4-6 mm, winged, glabrous; beak curved to recurved, 0.8-1.5 mm, glabrous. 2 n =14.
The taxonomy of this highly variable, widespread species is extremely controversial. The conservative approach taken here most closely approximates S.L. Welsh's (1974) treatment for the Alaskan varieties. E. Hultén's discussion (1941-1950, vol. 4, pp. 735-736) of local races and the variation within this species, however, clearly illustrates the need for a thorough biosystematic investigation. Recognition of about 12 varieties is in light of S. V. Juzepczuk's (1970) work; however, he elevated local races to specific rank in his treatment.
The Aleuts used Anemone narcissiflora (no varieties specified) medicinally as an antihemorrhagic (D. E. Moerman 1986).