Leaves of grindelia hirsutula
are found near the base of the stem and all the way to the top. They are quite variable in characteristics - leaves may be lobed or unlobed, have edges that are serrate or entire, and be hairless or covered by short, tomentose hairs. Leaves are usually somewhat glandular, and often have reddish tints. Leaf bases clasp the stem. Stems are erect, relatively tall, and have a few short side branches.
The involucre is about one inch in diameter, bell-shaped or hemispheric, and lined by several rows of phyllaries, which are flattish in cross-section and narrow fairly gradually to a pointed tip. Phyllaries are generally less recurved than for some similar species. Flowerheads have 10 to 60 ray yellow florets a little less than one inch in length, surrounding a center of a hundred or more disc florets.
This species is found along the coast in central and south California, and on the inland hills, up to 5,500 feet elevation.