A densely hairy, much-branching annual. Flowers on glandular-hairy stalks arising from upper leaf axils, long tubes with 5 lobes, light yellow, to 3 inches long, similar to the flowers of foxglove. Blooms August–September. Leaves opposite, pinnately divided into fernlike leaflets or small lobes.
Similar species: There are 3 species of Aureolaria in Missouri. The others are perennial and lack the delicately dissected leaves of this species. Smooth false foxglove (A. flava) is mostly in southeast Missouri; it lacks hairs. Big-flowered gerardia (A. grandiflora) is most commonly encountered and is scattered across the state, but apparently uncommon in northwest and southeast sections; it is densely short-hairy (and not glandular-hairy).