Crepis nana is a short densely tufted perennial herb in the aster family (Asteraceae), that occurs in open areas with loose, disturbed substrate such as scree slopes and streamside gravels. Crepis nana sometimes appears to be a half-globe of yellow flowers emerging from rocks framed by dark-green foliage. Plants are typically 5-10 cm tall, with several hidden branching stems arising from a stout taproot. Leaves are mostly basal in a tight circular rosette, glabrous, purplish, and elliptic to oblanceolate with toothed to pinnatifid leaf margins. The numerous flower heads are born among the leaves and are yellow, compact, and cushion-like. Each flowering head is composed of 9-12 reduced flowers. The corolla (fused petals) is yellow, strap-shaped and toothed at the tip, 9-12 mm long. Fruits are single-seeded ribbed achenes, 4-7 mm long, with a tuft of white hairs (pappus). Crepis nana could be confused with Crepis elegans, but that plant has erect branching and leafy stems.
Crepis nana flowers in mid to late summer.
Plants are monoecious with bisexual flowers. Crepis nana is insect pollinated and seeds have a tuft of hairs to help in wind dispersal.
Crepis nana has an arctic-alpine amphi-Beringian distribution occurring in mountainous regions from Eurasia to the western U.S. In North America, this taxon occurs in Alaska, Yukon east to Nunavut, the Canadian Arctic islands and Greenland. This species also ranges south through the Pacific coastal and Rocky Mountains states. In Alaska, C. nana occurs occasionally in suitable habitat statewide, except is absent in the southeast panhandle, the Alaska and Kenai peninsulas and the Aleutians. In Denali, C. nana occurs in the mountains and gravel bars on both sides of the Alaska Range.
Crepis nana is an alpine species that occurs at elevations from 202 m to 1752 m, with an average plot elevation of 1180 m. This species prefers steep south facing slopes and is most frequently found in sites with an average slope of 24 degrees.