Plants 20–120 cm.; stems usually notably stipitate-glandular, rarely merely ± resinous distally. Heads borne singly (at ends of branches) or in ± racemiform to spiciform arrays. Involucres ± obconic to campanulate. Phyllaries each bearing 5–20 gland-tipped processes and glabrous or minutely sessile- or stipitate-glandular. Ray florets 3–7. Disc florets 9–25; anthers reddish to dark purple. 2n = 8.
Subspecies 2 (2 in the flora).
Holocarpha virgata occurs widely in the Great Valley and bordering foothills of the Coast Ranges and Sierra Nevada in northern and central California (subsp. virgata); it is disjunct in southwestern California (e.g., subsp. elongata near San Diego). Different populations are often intersterile and distinguished by chromosomal rearrangements.