This native perennial plant is 1-3' tall and unbranched. The central stem is hairless, except for small tufts of hair at the base of the leaves.The opposite leaves are about 2-4" long. They are usually divided into 3 narrow lobes, but are sometimes linear near the inflorescence. The larger central lobe may also be divided into 1 or 2 small narrow lobes. These leaves are medium to dark green, sessile, and hairless. They are distributed evenly along the stem. The composite flowers are bright yellow and 1½-2" across. Each composite flower has numerous disk florets, which are surrounded by about 8 ray florets. The outer edges of the ray florets are less ragged in appearance than the ray florets of many other species of coreopsis. The blooming period occurs during early summer, and lasts about 3 weeks. There is no floral scent. The achenes do not have tufts of hairs. The root system is rhizomatous, and can produce dense colonies of this plant that exclude other species. During the fall, the foliage often acquires reddish tints.