Stems of acmispon glaber
usually point upwards but can grow along the ground, forming mats, a form more common in coastal areas. They become woody with age though tend to remain green in color rather than brown. Leaves are small, growing at quite widely-spaced intervals, and pinnately divided; usually with 3 leaflets on the top half of the stem, up to 6 towards the base. Flowers form in groups of 2 to 7 along the upper stem, and are essentially stalkless (sessile). They are bright yellow at first, becoming orange then red as they age and wither. Flowers are supported by a greenish, five lobed calyx, not hairy, with the lobes not pointing outwards.Var brevialatus
, found in inland areas and east towards the Sonoran Desert, has a more prominent keel petal, wider then the wing petals, while var glaber
is a coastal (and adjoining hills) variety, with a less prominent keel about equal in width to the wings.