Perennial herb from a creeping root; stems erect, branched above, numerous, more or less white woolly-hairy, with parallel-veined bracts 2.5-6 cm long, reduced upwards, 5-50 cm tall, flowering stems appear before the leaves.
Basal leaves arising directly from the creeping root, triangular to heart-shaped on long stalks, shallowly to palmately lobed or toothed, white-woolly to nearly glabrous beneath, green and somewhat hairy above, 4-50 cm long; stem leaves alternate, reduced, represented by parallel-veined bracts 1-6 cm long, more or less white woolly-hairy.
Heads disciform or with ray and disk flowers, several to many in a round- to flat-topped inflorescence, stalks glandular and white-woolly; involucres 6-15 mm tall; involucral bracts oblanceolate to lanceolate, pointed, hairy basally with multicellular hairs, the crosswalls often purple, margins translucent, tips fine-hairy; ray flowers few, whitish or pinkish; disk flowers whitish.
Achenes 5-10-ribbed, glabrous, rarely sparsely long-hairy, 3-4.5 mm; pappus of numerous white, hairlike bristles.
Three varieties occur in BC.
1. Leaves merely coarsely toothed or shallowly and obscurely lobed; plants of the subalpine and alpine zones........................ var. frigidus
1. Leaves conspicuously lobed; plants of the lowland to alpine zones.
2. Leaves palmately lobed and usually deeply cleft more than 1/2 way to the leaf base, usually broader than long; plants of the lowland and montane zones........................... var. palmatus (Ait.) Cronq.
2. Leaves lobed, sometimes palmately, but usually not cleft more than 1/2 way to the leaf base, usually longer than broad; plants of the subalpine and alpine zones...................... var. nivalis (Greene) Cronq.
Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia