Description from Flora of China
Cnicus griffithii J. D. Hooker (1881), not Cirsium griffithii Boissier (1875).
Herbs 2-2.5 m tall, perennial. Stems erect, stout, branched in upper half, ribbed, unwinged, sparsely cobwebby. Leaves discolorous, abaxially grayish white and densely felted, adaxially green, rough, and sparsely to densely spinulose. Middle cauline leaves sessile, ± narrowly elliptic, ca. 60 × 25 cm, pinnately divided, semiamplexicaul with auricles bearing 2-4 cm spines; segments 9-11 pairs, ± narrowly lanceolate, basally on both sides with 1 or 2 spiny teeth, fringed with 1-3 mm spinules, apex narrowed into a 1.5-2.5 cm spine. Upper cauline leaves similar but gradually smaller upward. Bracts lanceolate to linear, smaller than upper leaves, fringed with 2-2.5 cm spines. Capitula corymbose, ± nodding. Involucre broadly campanulate, 4-4.5 cm in diam., sparsely cobwebby, glabrescent. Phyllaries in ca. 10 rows, lacking wings and scarious appendage, outer phyllaries much shorter than inner ones; outer phyllaries triangular to lanceolate, 8-10 × 2.5-3 mm, apex narrowed into a 0.5-2 mm acumen or spinule; middle and inner phyllaries lanceolate to linear, 1.5-3 × 0.2-0.3 cm, apex acuminate and scarious. Florets bisexual. Corolla purple, ca. 3.5 cm, tube ca. 2.5 cm. Achene dark, ca. 5 mm. Pappus bristles brownish, ca. 2.5 cm. Fl. and fr. Sep-Nov.
● Forests, open forests, grasslands on mountain slopes; 2000-2500 m. SE Xizang, W Yunnan.