The inflorescence of physaria acutifolia
grows on unbranched stems that may stay vertical, reaching a height of 8 inches, or (more usually) recline close to the ground. The yellow flowers are half an inch in diameter, with four spatula-shaped petals enclosing a small central tube containing the yellow-tipped stamens. The yellowish-green sepals are linear to oblong in shape and, like the stems and leaves, are covered in short, branched hairs.
The silvery-green basal leaves provide one way of distinguishing the plant from several similar species that inhabit the same region; they are spoon-shaped, narrow at the base becoming much wider towards the tip, with edges curved upwards slightly. Stem leaves are similar in shape, or more oblanceolate, and about half as long.