Perennial herb from a fibrous root, without stolons; stems erect, sparsely to densely hairy, largely underground but the aerial stems 6-30 cm tall.
Basal leaves egg-shaped to lanceolate, entire or slightly wavy, sparsely to densely hairy, the blades 2-10 cm long, 1-3.5 cm wide, the stalks 3-15 cm long; stem leaves lacking or few, similar; stipules joined to the stem with the free end entire to toothed, sparsely to densely hairy.
Inflorescence of single, axillary flowers; petals 5, yellow, the lower petal 12-20 mm long including the 1- to 2-mm long spur, the lower 3 usually brown-penicilled and sometimes tinged with brown, the lateral pair bearded; sepals 5, lanceolate; style heads bearded.
Capsules, smooth to hairy, 6-11 mm long; seeds dark brown.
The ssp. linguaefolia (Nutt. ex T.& G.) Baker & Clausen ex Peck may occur in the Rocky Mountains of extreme SE BC. This subspecies can be distinguished from ssp. praemorsa by its longer, narrower stem leaves and the wedge-shaped leaf base.