Plants 60-120 cm. Leaves cau-line; sessile; blades oblong-ovate to elliptic, 5-15 cm, bases cordate, clasping, auriculate, margins spinulose-denticulate, faces densely glandular-scabrid. Heads in paniculiform arrays. Involucres turbinate to campanulate, 6-8(. 10+) mm. Phyllaries in 3-4 series, linear to oblanceolate, apices acute to acuminate or mucronate, margins and abaxial faces glandular-hairy. Receptacles alveolate, glandular-hairy. Florets 10-20; corollas lavender-pink, 6-12 mm. Cypselae cylindric, 1.5-6 mm, bristly glandular-puberulent; pappi tawny, 6-10 mm. 2n = 54. Flowering May-Jul. Gravel and caliche soils in scrub oak, oak woodlands, and chaparral; 60-1300 m; Calif.; Mexico (Baja California). In the flora, Acourtia microcephala is restricted to the dry areas of California from Monterey to San Diego counties and on the Channel Islands.