Herbs, monocarpic, to 25 cm tall in flower (to 40 cm in fruit), basally with persistent leaf bases. Taproot plump, to 30 cm, ca. 1.3 cm in diam. at top. Leaves all basal; petiole 3-7.2 cm; blade virescent abaxially, green adaxially, narrowly elliptic, lanceolate, oblanceolate, or spatulate, 2.5-10 × 0.7-2.2 cm, both surfaces rubiginous or fulvous spiny, midvein distinct, lateral veins dichotomous, base attenuate and decurrent to wings, margin entire or undulate, sometimes with irregular and incised lobes or pinnatipartite, apex obtuse to subacute. Flowers scapose, up to 21 per plant, nutant, 3-6.7 cm in diam. Scapes to 25 cm, with rubiginous or fulvous spreading spines. Flower buds globose, 8-11 mm in diam. Sepals adaxially rubiginous or fulvous hirsute, obviously striate. Petals 4-10, dark purple, deep wine-purple, reddish purple, purple-maroon, or indigo, obovate or suborbicular, 1.5-3.2 × 1.5-2.1 cm. Filaments of same color as petals or deeper, occasionally whitish, filiform, ca. 1 cm; anthers ivory, yellow, or golden, ovoid, ca. 1 mm. Ovary greenish, ellipsoidal, elliptic-oblong, or narrowly obovoid, fulvous appressed hirsute; styles clavate, 3-10 mm; stigmas ivory or green, capitate. Capsule brownish gray, narrowly obovoid to oblong-elliptic, 2-3.6 cm × 5-8 mm, with fulvous or rubiginous spreading setae, often rather sparse, 3(-5)-valvate for up to 1/3 distance from apex. Seeds black, falcate-elliptic, seed coat striate or inconspicuously longitudinally pitted. Fl. and fr. May-Nov.
Grassy slopes, rocky slopes, alpine meadows, stony pastures; 3400-4700 m. SW Sichuan (Daocheng, Muli, Xiangcheng), SE Xizang (Zayü), NW Yunnan [NE Myanmar].