Like its cousin the Cymopterus deserticola, C. ripleyi is a rare plant listed by the BLM as a species of concern in the Mojave. It is visually distinct from its relative in that it is considerably smaller in size, and its leaves are fleshier, glossier and not as strongly palmately compound.
This plant is found near the northern edge of the Mojave range in California, usually near dune systems and blow sand. One of the largest documented concentrations of the species is at Haiwee Reservoir, where it can be found in small to medium sized patches during Feb to April. The plants will usually be in clusters of up to 15 individuals, spaced out over only a few meters of ground, which in turn are separated by a considerably larger area where the plants are completely absent.