Stem, leaves and phyllaries of madia sativa
are covered by long, thin, white hairs, and also by quite long glandular hairs - these are a little thicker, topped by a resinous gland colored yellow, purple or black. Stems branch a few times and can reach a height of seven feet, though one to three feet is more common.
Flowerheads usually have between 8 and 13 greenish-yellow (sometimes purplish) ray florets, partly divided at the tip into three lobes, and 11 to 14 disc florets, all yellow apart from large, dark purple anthers. The involucre is wider at the base than the top, enclosed by green, glandular phyllaries whose tips may be bent back somewhat.
Plants are most common close to the Pacific coast, in California, Oregon and Washington, and north to Alaska, but are also found inland, at low to medium elevations.