Stems of aquilegia flavescens
are freely branching, and bear greyish-green leaves mostly at the base; these are ternately divided into three distinct leaflets, which are themselves partially divided once or twice into broad lobes. Leaflet stalks are up to 2 inches long, while the main leaf stalks are up to 6 inches. Leaves are usually glabrous but may have a sparse covering of long, soft hairs. Stem leaves are much reduced in size. Stems generally have a covering of short, glandular hairs.
Flowers are nodding, and produced singly at the end of the branches. The five sepals are yellow or pale pink in color, up to one inch in length, and held at 90 degrees. The five petal spurs are yellow, slightly shorter than the sepals, and their tips curve inwards, while the petal blades are similarly colored, and oblong in shape. The outside of the petals and sepals have a covering of short hairs. A group of yellowish stamens and green pistils projects forwards by about half an inch.