Perennials, 50–180 cm (rhizomes stout, plants not colonial, roots fibrous). Leaves green, blades lanceolate to ovate or elliptic, herbaceous, sometimes pinnately lobed, bases attenuate, ultimate margins entire or coarsely toothed, apices acute, faces (abaxial) sparsely hairy or glabrous (adaxial); basal petiolate, 20–60 × 5–15 cm; cauline petiolate or sessile, 10–30 × 3–15 cm. Heads borne singly or (3–12) in ± corymbiform arrays. Phyllaries to 2 cm. Receptacles conic to columnar; paleae 5–6 mm, apices obtuse to acute, abaxial tips densely hairy. Ray florets 8–21; laminae linear to elliptic or oblong, 3–6 × 1–1.6 cm, abaxially hairy. Discs 15–60 × 14–25 mm. Disc florets 200–300+; corollas greenish yellow, 4–5 mm; style branches ca. 1.5 mm, apices acute to rounded. Cypselae 4–5 mm; pappi coroniform or of scales, to 1.5 mm. 2n = 36.
Phenology: Flowering summer–fall.
Habitat: Meadows, seeps, streamsides
Elevation: 1400–2400 m
Rudbeckia californica grows in the central Sierra Nevada.