This is a rhizomatous perennial herb producing a patch of leaves, most of which are made up of many pairs of oval-shaped, bluntly lobed green leaflets. These compound leaves may be up to 40 centimeters long. The plant produces erect stems branching into green to reddish-purple rough-haired, leafless peduncles bearing inflorescences.
The inflorescence is a large ball of densely packed flowers. Each flower is up to a centimeter wide and bright white to lavender. It is coated in downy white hairs and has a long protruding style and usually five stamens with large purple or red anthers. The fruit is a spherical capsule containing two seeds. The inflorescence of Hydrophyllum occidentale occurs above the leaf canopy.
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