Holocarpha virgata is endemic to California, where it is most common in the San Joaquin Valley and Sacramento Valley of the Central Valley, and adjacent foothills of the Inner Coast Ranges and Sierra Nevada (U.S.).  There is also a disjunct populations in foothills of the Peninsular Ranges in San Diego County and Orange County.
Holocarpha virgata is an annual herb producing an erect stem 20 centimetres (7.9 in) to over 1 metre (3.3 ft) tall. It has many branches and is lined with oily glands and hairs. The linear leaves are up to 15 centimetres (5.9 in) long near the base of the plant and those along the stem are much smaller.
The inflorescence is made up of several short branches lined densely in small, thick, green bracts. The bracts are just a few millimeters long and are tipped with glands. At the ends of the branches are flower heads, each lined with phyllaries which are covered in knobby resin glands. The head contains many disc florets which are yellow with black or purplish anthers. The head has a fringe of several yellow ray florets which often have lobed tips.
- Jepson Manual Treatment: Holocarpha virgata
- CalFlora Database: Holocarpha virgata
- USDA Plants Profile for Holocarpha virgata
- Holocarpha virgata — U.C. Photo gallery
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