Antennaria monocephala is a small alpine plant of tundra, lush meadows and snowbeds with gray-green leaves and single flower head (hence the species name 'mono' and 'cephala' meaning head). Plants of A. monocephala are loosely cushion-forming, growing from a slender, branching rhizome with stolons. Plants grow 5-13 cm high. The basal rosette has leaves that are spatulate or narrowly oblanceolate, 9-18 mm long, upper side green-hairless or occasionally lightly pubescent, with the underside densely covered in hairs. The coloring of the stem leaves is similar, but they are alternately arranged, linear and with scarious brown tips. The flower heads are solitary (sometimes 2-3) on a flowering stalk, with one or several stalks per plant. The heads are subtended by several layers of dark, scarious-margined bracts, narrow and just shorter than the flowers. The flowers are surrounded by long, white hair-like pappus (modified sepals), eclipsing the smaller petals and giving the flower its distinctive fuzzy look. When produced, fruits are single-seeded capsules with long pappus hairs attached, but the species primarily spreads vegetatively. Antennaria monocephala is the only member of the genus in Denali with a single head per stem.
Antennaria monocephala is perennial with evergreen leaves. It flowers mid-summer, fruiting in the fall.
The genus Antennaria is dioecious, meaning plants have either all male or all female flowers. Additionally, in A. monocephala, there are both sexual (subsp. monocephala) and asexual (subsp. angustata) populations. The asexual populations have only female flowers, which can set seed without pollination and reproduce clonally (apomixis). Flowers are pollinated by many different insects. Fruits are capsules with long pappus hairs attached, wind-dispersed.
Antennaria monocephalais an amphi-Beringian arctic-alpine species that occurs across arctic Canada to Greenland and reaches its southern limit in isolated stations in the mountains of Wyoming. In Alaska, Antennaria monocephala occurs across a wide swath of the state, including localities on North Slope, Seward Peninsula, Bering Sea Islands, and in southwest from Bristol Bay and Kodiak to Unimak Island In Denali, Antennaria monocephala occurs in subalpine and alpine hills and mountains on both sides of the Alaska Range crest.
This species grows at a fairly wide range of elevations (498 to 1787 m), but is most frequent above 1100 m. This species frequency increases with higher slopes, most common on inclines above 20 degrees. In terms of aspect, it is more likely to be found on north or west-facing aspects, but does occur on southern aspects.