Erect stem topped by cone-shaped spiny flower head. Stem hollow, stout, with few branches, covered with some rough hairs. Leaves lance-shaped, in pairs clasping around stem, may be shallowly toothed; underside of midrib spiny. Flowers lilac to pink, held by everlasting spiny bracts forming 2–4 in. stiff cone-shaped head. Long leaf-like bracts with spiny edges, 4–5 at base of flower head. Flowers open in ring around head starting at bottom. Grows in moist to wet places, disturbed soils, at low to mid elevations. Flower heads of this species are used in the wool industry to raise the nap on cloth.
- Rarity: Locally Common
- Flowering Time: All Summer
- Life Cycle: Biennial
- Height: 3--6 feet
- Habitat: Meadow, Bog/Fen/Wetland, Disturbed
- Found In: West Gorge, Siskiyous
- Native: No