The flower heads of berlandiera lyriata
measure about 2 inches in diameter and grow at the end of leafless stalks rising above a dense base of large, lobed leaves. Most of the lobes are small, lower down the leaf stalk; the terminal lobe is by far the largest. Leaves have a prominent central vein.
Flowers usually have 8 ray petals (but ranging between 5 and 12), and a maroon-brown center of disc florets, often quite long and protruding, and each growing out of a greenish, scale-like structure. The undersides of the ray petals have a neat pattern of maroon veins, and the flower head is supported by a cup-shaped cluster of overlapping, lightly hairy, green bracts. The plant is known as chocolate flower on account of the sweet smell emanating from the petals.