Lance-leaf tickseed grows in small clumps but forms extensive colonies. It is 1-2 1/2 feet tall and has leaves 3-4 inches long, opposite, sometimes alternate near the top where the leaves are fewer. Some of the leaves are deeply cut, almost forming 3 leaflets. Flower heads are yellow, 1-1 1/2 inches across. The yellow center or disk flowers stand out distinctly from the ray flowers, which appear to be attached just below them. Ray flowers are 4-lobed. The yellow, daisy-like flowers occur singly atop long, naked peduncles.
This native species has branching stems at base and often forms sizable colonies along roadsides and in old fields. A southern species, Greater Tickseed (C. major), 2-3 (60-90 cm) tall, has sunflower-like flower heads 1-2 (2.5-5 cm) wide and opposite leaves deeply segmented into 3 parts, appearing as a whorl of 6. Nearly a dozen other perennial yellow-flowered Coreopsis species occur in the East.