Plants 10-30(-40) cm. Basal leaves: blades silvery, lanceolate or lance-ovate, 9-30 × 2-7 cm (1-pinnatifid, lobes oblong to oblanceolate, 5-35 × 3-17 mm), bases cuneate, ultimate margins usually entire (plane or weakly revolute, obscurely, if at all, ciliate), apices rounded to acute, faces densely sericeous. Heads borne singly. Involucres campanulate to hemispheric, 11-20+ mm diam. Outer phyllaries broadly ovate to triangular-ovate, 12-20 mm, slightly surpassing inner, apices acuminate to attenuate (margins not ciliate). Ray laminae 15-20 mm (adaxially puberulous on veins).
Flowering Apr-May. Serpentine outcrops, among surface rocks, in crevices, hillsides, dry streamsides among cobbles; 400-1800 m; Calif., Oreg.
Balsamorhiza sericea hybridizes with B. deltoidea.