Ruth's Golden-aster is an herbaceous tufted perennial that has slender stoloniferous rhizomes. Its leaves are numerous, cauline, linear, and silvered with long apressed hairs. The inflorescence is comprised of one to several heads of yellow composite flowers in a cyme. This southeastern Tennessee endemic has only two known populations. Ruths golden-aster grows in the crevices of boulders in the natural flood zone of the Hiwassee and Ocoee Rivers, where upstream activities have significantly altered the riparian habitat. Threats include disruption of natural flooding cycles by dam construction, degradation of water quality by mining activity, toxic chemical spills, and trampling by recreational boaters. Ruths golden-aster populations have historically been maintained on these riverbanks due to periodic high water flows that remove competing vegetation. On the Hiwassee River, the prevention of flooding has caused increased competition and invasion by shade-tolerant species. On the Ocoee River, the increased frequency and decreased magnitude of flooding events (water releases for hydropower and recreational activities) has prevented recruitment of new plants. The protection and recovery of Pityopsis ruthii is currently overseen jointly by a number of organizations.