This native perennial plant is up to 4' tall, consisting of a central stem that branches occasionally near the top. The central stem and side branches are covered with short white hairs. The alternate leaves are up to 4" long and 1" wide, becoming smaller as they ascend the flowering stems. They are lanceolate or oblong, pubescent, and clasp the stem at the base of each leaf. Their margins are smooth, but ciliate. Clusters of composite flowers occur at the ends of the upper stems. Each composite flower consists of numerous gold or yellow disk florets, which are surrounded by 30 or more ray florets that are purple, lavender, or light pink. Each composite flower is about 1½" across. A mature plant may bear two dozen or more of such flowers, putting forth a showy display. There is no noticeable floral scent. The blooming period occurs from late summer to fall, and lasts about 2 months. The root system consists of a stout caudex with fibrous roots, which often produces short thick rhizomes, enabling this plant to spread vegetatively. The achenes are longitudinally ribbed and slightly hairy, with tufts of hair that enable them to be carried off in the wind.