Description from Flora of China
Cirsium asperum Nakai; C. japonicum Candolle var. amurense Kitamura; C. japonicum subsp. maackii (Maximowicz) Nakai; C. japonicum var. maackii (Maximowicz) Matsumura; C. japonicum var. ussuriense (Regel) Kitamura; C. litorale Maximowicz var. ussuriense Regel; C. maackii var. koreiense (Nakai) Nakai; Cnicus japonicus Maximowicz var. maackii (Maximowicz) Maximowicz; C. maackii (Maximowicz) Nakai; C. maackii var. koreiensis Nakai.
Herbs 40-150 cm tall, perennial. Roots tuberous, fusiform. Stems grayish white, erect, branched or unbranched, unwinged, with multicellular hairs and densely felted above. Leaves with smooth surface, concolorous with crispate hairs along veins or ± discolorous, abaxially grayish green and cobwebby. Basal and lower cauline leaves often concolorous, with winged petiole, wing spiny or with triangular spine-tipped teeth; leaf blade elliptic to lanceolate, 15-30 × 7-9 cm, pinnately divided; segments 4-8 pairs, elliptic, fringed with spinules and with unequal triangular teeth with lateral spinules less than 1 mm and a ca. 5 mm apical spine; terminal segment largest. Middle and upper cauline leaves similar but sessile, smaller, sometimes undivided, discolorous, auriculate semiamplexicaul. Capitula 1 or several, corymbose, erect or nodding. Involucre campanulate, ca. 2 cm in diam., glabrous or sparsely cobwebby. Phyllaries in ca. 5 rows, lacking marginal spinules, wings, and scarious appendage, abaxially with a dark resinous gland; outer and middle phyllaries triangular-lanceolate to lanceolate, 6-13 × 2-2.5 mm, margin ciliate, apex acute and tipped with a spinule less than 0.5 mm; inner phyllaries lanceolate to linear-lanceolate, 1.3-2.3 × 0.2-0.3 cm. Florets bisexual. Corolla purplish red, ca. 2.4 cm, tube ca. 1.2 cm. Achene yellowish, ca. 4 mm. Pappus bristles white, ca. 2 cm. Fl. and fr. Jun-Sep. 2n = 34, 36.
Grasslands on mountain slopes, forest margins, meadows, near villages; 100-1100 m. S Anhui, Hebei, Heilongjiang, Jiangsu, Jilin, Liaoning, SE Nei Mongol, E Shandong, Sichuan, N Zhejiang [Korea, Russia].