Perennials, 10-20 cm (taproots often with creeping rhizomes, caudices relatively short). Stems 1-10+, erect or ascending (in dense clumps), simple or proximally branched, glabrous. Leaves basal and cauline; petiolate (at least basal); blades (often purplish), orbiculate to spatulate, less often lyrate or runcinate, 2-9 × 0.5-2.5 cm, (bases abruptly 0) margins entire or pinnately lobed, apices obtuse to acute, faces glabrous (glaucous). Heads 5-80+ (among or beyond leaves), in cymiform arrays. Calyculi of 5-10 (dark green or blackish), lanceolate, glabrous bractlets 2-3 mm. Involucres cylindric, 8-13 × 3-4 mm. Phyllaries 8-10, (dark green or purple medially) oblong, 10-11 mm, (margins scarious, eciliate) apices acute, faces glabrous. Florets 9-12; corollas yellow, purple-tinged abaxially, 9-12 mm. Cypselae golden brown, subcylindric to fusiform, 4-7 mm, apices sometimes tapered (not beaked), ribs 10-13 (broad, smooth); pappi (falling) bright white, 4-6 mm. 2n = 14. Flowering May-Sep. Talus slopes, rocky alpine places, sandy stream banks, gravel bars, exposed sites in shrub communities; 300-4000 m; Alta., B.C., Nfld. and Labr., N.W.T., Nunavut, Yukon; Alaska, Calif., Colo., Idaho, Mont., Nev., Oreg., Utah, Wash., Wyo.; Asia (Russia). Crepis nana occurs in North America and northern Asia. It is recognized by the tufted, cespitose habit, elongate roots and rhizomes, and occurrence in alpine habitats. In the typical form, the plants are tufted, the stems are not leafy, and the heads are borne among the leaves. Taller specimens with elongated, leafy branches and heads borne well beyond the basal leaves are sometimes recognized as subsp. ramosa; these characteristics appear to be part of the normal range of variation for the species.
Crepis nana is closely related to C. elegans, differing mainly in the shape of the cypselae. The cypselae of C. nana are almost always more columnar, wider at bases, and with broader ribs, than those of C. elegans.
The name Crepis nana subsp. clivicola Legge is invalid.