Biennials or monocarpic perennials, 20-350 cm; taprooted. Stems usually 1, erect, simple to openly branched in distal 1/2, ± villous with jointed trichomes, sometimes finely arachnoid, sometimes ± glabrate; branches 0-many, ascending. Leaves: blades oblong to elliptic or oblanceolate, 5-50 × 1-10 cm, plane to moderately undulate, coarsely dentate to deeply pinnatifid, lobes 5-10 well separated, linear, narrowly to broadly triangular, spinulose to spiny-dentate or shallowly lobed, main spines 3-10 mm, abaxial faces thinly to densely villous along major veins with septate trichomes, sometimes thinly arachnoid-tomentose, sometimes glabrescent, adaxial glabrous to sparsely villous or shaggy-tomentose along midveins with septate trichomes; basal often absent at flowering, spiny winged-petiolate or sessile; principal cauline well distributed, only gradually reduced, bases auriculate-clasping; distal moderately to strongly reduced, thin, often spinier than the proximal. Heads 1-many, erect, often crowded and ± sessile in tight clusters at stem tips, closely subtended by clusters of leafy bracts or not, collectively forming corymbiform or paniculiform arrays. Peduncles 0-5(-30) cm. Involucres narrowly ovoid to hemispheric or campanulate, 1.5-3.5 × 1.5-4 cm (including spines), loosely to densely arachnoid with fine, non-septate trichomes. Phyllaries in 4-8 series, subequal, green or often purplish, bodies short, appressed, abaxial faces without glutinous ridge, apices stiffly radiating to ascending, straight or flexuous, narrowly linear, plane to acicular, spines straight, slender, 1-10+ mm; outermost spiny-fringed or entire, mid entire or minutely serrulate; apices of inner straight, sometimes expanded and erose, flat. Corollas purple (pink or white), (15-)18-22(-33) mm, tubes 7-11 mm, throats (4-)5-8.5(-13) mm, lobes linear but not filiform, not knobbed at tips, (2-)4.5-7(-10) mm; style tips 3-4(-5) mm, conspicuously exserted beyond corolla lobes. Cypselae dark brown, 3.5-6.5 mm, apical collars not differentiated; pappi 9-19(-25) mm.