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Also known as Cobwebby thistle, this biennial species can attain a height up to three meters, occurring in an erect or mounding form. There is generally a single stem that is branched above (although, near the base in dwarf plants). Leaves are gray or whitish, and are tomentose, especially below. Flowers have corollae that measure 18 to 40 millimeters, and are white to purple or red; corollae tubes are eight to 18 mm, with a throat of five to seven mm.