Leaves and stems of eriogonum brevicaule
usually have a light covering of tomentose hairs, though can also be glabrous. The narrow leaves grow mostly at the base; they have a depressed midvein and slightly wavy margins, sometimes shallowly toothed. One to seven stem leaves may also be present. Plants can form spreading mats, with leaning stems, or grow singly, with erect stems.
The inflorescence is a small, compound umbel, each branch subtended by three scale-like bracts. Flowers consist of a greenish-yellow, five-lobed involucre and five white to yellow tepals forming a cup-shape, enclosing nine exserted yellow stamens.
Unusually for a species with a relatively limited range, at least ten varieties of eriogonum brevicaule have been identified, most relatively common in specific areas; differing characteristics include hairiness, growth form, inflorescence shape, flower size, leaf shape and leaf margins. Var brevicaule
is the most widespread variant; this has hairless stems and peduncles, and does not form mats.