A large yellow flower blooms on a grassy hillside. The single flower head atop a strong, sturdy stalk looks rather like a small sunflower, with deep yellow ray petals. Leaves are mostly basal, and can be long and skinny or spade-shaped. Both leaves and stalks are slightly hairy and the inflorescence is flanked by many small, hairy bracts.
This is narrowleaf mule ears (Wyethia angustifola) which are somewhat more common than their shorter cousin, Coast Range mule ears. W. angustifolia grow to between 1 and 3 feet tall. It also lacks large, leaf-like bracts surrounding the yellow flower.
The stems and seeds of the plant are edible; they were eaten raw, and the seeds were pounded into a sweetened flour called pinole. The leaves and roots were used medicinally; roots were pounded into a poultice used to draw out blisters or treat lung ailments. A bath made from leaves was used to treat fever.
Narrowleaf mule ears is also known as California compassplant.