The flat-topped, spherical or cylindrical stems of coryphantha recurvata
measure up to 6 inches across and are often found clustered together in colonies of up to 50, taking up several square feet. Stems have a dense covering of short yellowish spines, less than one inch long - 1 or 2 centrals (slightly curved and pointing downwards) and up to 15 radials, all of which grow on small green tubercles not arranged in rows, though these are largely obscured by the spiny exterior.
A profusion of yellow flowers appears in midsummer, in rings near the apex, complementing the golden yellow of the spines. In this respect the plant differs from most other coryphantha species which bloom right at the growing tip.