Annuals, 10-40 cm. Stems (green or red) erect, densely hirsute and gland-dotted. Leaves mostly cauline; mostly alternate; petioles 1-6 cm; blades lanceolate to lance-ovate, 2.5-5 × 1-2 cm, bases cuneate, margins entire, abaxial faces hispid-hirsute, densely gland-dotted. Heads 1-5. Peduncles 1-3(-8) cm. Involucres hemispheric, 13-25 mm diam. Phyllaries 13-21, lanceolate to lance-ovate, 7-19 × 1.5-2 mm (equaling or slightly surpassing discs), (margins ciliate) apices acuminate, abaxial faces hispid (hairs erect, often 1+ mm) gland-dotted. Paleae 8-9 mm, ± 3-toothed (middle teeth equaling or slightly surpassing discs, apices yellowish brown, usually hispid). Ray florets 7-13; laminae 10-30 mm (abaxial faces gland-dotted). Disc florets 25+; corollas 5.5-6 mm, lobes reddish; anthers dark, appendages purplish (style branches reddish). Cypselae 4-5 mm, pilose; pappi usually of 2 linear scales 1.6-2.5 mm plus 4-6 linear or ovate, erose scales 0.5-1 mm. 2n = 34. Flowering spring-fall. Dry, open areas; 400-1500 m; Ariz., Nev., Utah. Helianthus deserticola is relatively uncommon; it is not federally listed. Abundant subsessile glands ('resin dots') on stems, leaves, phyllaries, and abaxial faces of ray laminae help to distinguish H. deserticola from H. anomalus, with which it is sometimes lumped. L. H. Rieseberg (1991) demonstrated that it is of hybrid origin; parental species are H. annuus and H. petiolaris.