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Annual or biennial herb from a fibrous root; stems erect, solitary, simple or few-branched, ridged, glabrous to sparsely woolly-hairy, 0.5-1.5 m tall.
Basal leaves lacking; stem leaves elliptic below, becoming oblanceolate or lanceolate above, alternate, spiny-toothed, pinnately lobed, 15-80 cm long, 5-30 cm wide, veins lighter in colour thus leaves appearing white-mottled, stalked below, becoming unstalked above with conspicuous ear-like flanges, clasping at the bases.
Heads discoid, terminating the branches; involucres 2-6 cm wide; involucral bracts narrowly egg-shaped, margins spiny, tips spiny but basally expanded; ray flowers lacking; disk flowers purple.
Achenes elliptic to egg-shaped, 6-7 mm long, flattened, dark brown with a narrow, yellow, apical collar, glabrous; pappus with numerous bristles, these deciduous in a ring.
Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia