The fern-like leaves of ivesia gordonii
are quite distinctive, being divided into around 20 leaflets, each further divided into smaller segments. The inflorescence grows on leafless stalks, a little longer (6 inches), and consisting or spherical clusters of small flowers; these have (usually) three tiny pistils and five stamens at the center, surrounded by five narrow, yellow, spatula-shaped petals above five wider, pointed, hairy, greenish-yellow sepals, below which is a cluster of hairy green bracts. Anthers are colored yellow, later reddish. Flowers become orange then reddish as they wither.
The plant is found at relatively high elevations, between 6,000 and 12,000 feet, in the mountains of the north and west. There are four varieties (wasatchensis, ursinorum, gordonii, alpicola), differing such aspects as the number of leaflets, the hairiness of the leaflets and the color of the stems.