Common groundsel is a winter annual member of the aster family. Groundsel has a taproot with a secondary fibrous root system. The sparsely hairy leaves are alternate on upright , many branched stems. The lower leaves are wavy margined to deeply lobed margins. Upper leaves are stemless and coarsely toothed to irregularly lobed.

The flowers heads of common groundsel are composed of several yellow disk flowers. Common groundsel is a prolific seed producer. Seeds are produced within several weeks of groundsel germinating, resulting in several generations within the same year. Groundsel reproduces by seed.