Prenanthes serpentaria is generally recognized by its large, deeply 3–5-lobed proximal leaves with rounded sinuses and lobes, winged petioles, attenuate involucres, sparsely setose phyllaries, and yellow corollas. The leaves are variable in size and lobing, often on the same plant. Some specimens have predominantly ovate to elliptic, unlobed leaves, and these have been variously recognized. Some specimens appear to combine characteristics of P. crepidinea or P. trifoliolata and may be the result of recent or ancient hybridization. The species boundaries in this group merit further study.