This plant is usually a winter annual, although sometimes it is a summer annual. It consists of a rosette of basal leaves up to 9" across, from which one or more flowering stalks develop that are little branched and up to 2½' tall (although individual plants can be much smaller than this). The basal leaves are up to 4½" long and ¾" across; they are elliptic, lanceolate, or oblanceolate, and pinnately lobed. The alternate leaves on the flowering stalks are much smaller in size and widely spaced; they are lanceolate, elliptic or linear in shape, and either smooth or slightly dentate along their margins. The bases of the alternate leaves are either sessile or they clasp their stalks with auriculate (ear-like) lobes. Both the basal and alternate leaves are medium to dark green and mostly hairless, although the lower sides of their central veins are often covered with appressed hairs. The terete stalks are light green to dark reddish purple (usually the latter), and they are usually glabrous above and appressed-hairy below.