Shrubs, 50-150 cm. Stems 1-5+, erect or spreading, spiny, evenly pannose. Leaves: primaries forming straight, ± squarrose spines, 10-50 mm; secondaries filiform to clavate, 2-12(-20) mm, sparsely arachnose or glabrous. Heads 1-3 (in axils of spines). Peduncles 4-15 mm. Involucres turbinate to campanulate, 7-9 mm. Phyllaries 5, ovate. Florets 5-7; corollas pale yellow, 7.5-9 mm. Cypselae 4.5-5.5 mm, densely pilose (hairs 6-14 mm); pappi of ca. 25, subulate to setiform scales 6-7.5 mm. The two varieties of Tetradymia axillaris are partially sympatric and intergrade in areas of overlap.