Stems of valeriana acutiloba
are often reddish, and clustered, growing vertically upwards to heights of around 2 feet. They are usually hairless, but may have a sparse covering of very short, spreading hairs. Basal leaves and the lowest pair of stem leaves are undivided, while leaves higher up the stem are pinnately lobed, and the lateral lobes are sharp-pointed. Lateral lobes are much narrower than the terminal lobe. Upper stem leaves are sessile; those lower down have short stalks.
Flowers are arranged as a dense, compact cluster, gradually elongating as they mature. Flowers are either staminate or pistillate, on the same plant; the former are held upright, the latter somewhat drooping. Both types of flower have purple calyces and white to pale pink corollas, with five lobes. Stamens are exserted.