An erect annual up to 100 cm high, many branches with spiny wings and
dense cobweb-like hairs giving a woolly appearance
Leaves also woolly with white hairs, rosette leaves up to 30 cm long, slightly lobed and with short spines. Stem leaves
alternate, up to 10 cm long, narrow, shallowly lobed with yellow spines 10–15 mm long on lobes and shorter spines on the margins. Leaf bases extend down the stem as wings. Inflorescences cylindrical but tapering to the tip, 2-4 cm long, about 1 cm wide, solitary or in small groups at the ends of branches or on small stalks in leaf axils, surrounded by numerous bracts each ending in multi-forked yellow spines. Florets pink or purple. Seeds brown to black with lighter longitudinal markings, 4–6 mm long, smooth and shiny; pappus of numerous feathery, silvery-white bristles 1–2 cm long, loosely attached. Seed is spread by wind and via wool, hides, vehicles, mud, and water, particularly along irrigation channels. The whole plant may also break off and become a tumbleweed.
How to get rid of:
manual weeding and hand