Perennials, 5-120+ cm; herbage tomentose or glabrescent, not spiny. Stems erect or ascending, simple or branched. Leaves basal or cauline (sometimes cauline only), sessile or petiolate; blade margins entire or dentate to pinnately lobed, faces glabrous to densely tomentose, glandular or eglandular. Heads discoid, borne singly or in corymbiform arrays. Involucres ovoid to campanulate or ± turbinate. Phyllaries many in 3-5(-10+) series, subequal to strongly unequal, appressed or not, ovate to lanceolate, margins entire, toothed, or lobed, apices obtuse or acute, appendaged or not, not spine-tipped. Receptacles flat or convex, epaleate, smooth, usually subulate-scaly, sometimes bristly or naked. Florets 10-20; corollas white to blue or purple, tubes slender, abruptly expanded to throats, lobes linear; anther bases short-tailed, apical appendages linear, acute; style branches: fused portions with minutely hairy subterminal nodes, distinct portions oblong to linear, short-papillate. Cypselae oblong, ± angled, cylindric or 4-5-angled, ribs (when present) smooth or roughened, apices entire, glabrous or minutely glandular, attachment scars basal; pappi usually of 2 series, outer of readily falling, short bristles, inner persistent or falling as unit, of basally connate, usually longer, plumose bristles. x = 13, 14, 16, 17, 18, 19-. Saussurea is a notoriously difficult, largely Asiatic genus with species boundaries often indistinct.