As well as the nutlets, the leaves of cryptantha species provide the best means of identification. Those of cryptantha barbigera
are relatively broad, up to half an inch across at the base, and have quite a dense covering of spreading, bristly white hairs, most evident along the edges. Leaf surfaces are somewhat irregular in color, flecked with slightly darker green patches. A prominent vein runs down the center. Leaves may be whorled, opposite or alternate.
The inflorescence forms at the top of the stems, which generally branch from below the middle. Flowers have five narrow, linear, dark green sepals, not fused, and five white or pale yellow petals, yellow at the base. The white bristles are especially dense around the base of the flowers, hence the common name of bearded cryptantha. The fruit contains four equally-sized, ovate or lanceolate nutlets, with a groove down one side and white tubercles on the surface.