Description from Flora of China
Herbs, perennial. Rhizome stout and branched, usually growing in a large clone. Stems erect, simple, solitary or clustered. Leaves oblanceolate, mostly basal with distinct petioles, cauline ones ± sessile, alternate. Capitula solitary, broadly campanulate, disciform with numerous marginal female florets and disk male florets or discoid and plants monoecious or dioecious. Involucres in several series, herbaceous, outermost series largest. Receptacle slightly convex or flat, foveolate, epaleate. Functionally male florets usually in center, 20-30 in number; corollas tubular-campanulate, deeply 5-lobed, lobes reflexed; style undivided, conic at apex; pappus of one series. Female florets numerous (sometimes totally female florets in a head or in all capitula of one plant); corolla tubular, shallowly 4-toothed; style 2-branched, branches linear, rounded at apex. Achenes oblong or narrowly obovoid. Pappus of 2 series, barbellate bristles, persistent, numerous on female florets, sparse and shorter on male florets.
GENERA INCERTAE SEDIS
The original description of this genus is somewhat inaccurate. Smith, in the protologue, noted that the pappus is in one series; however, only the pappus in male florets is uniseriate, while those in female florets are biseriate and longer, and all pappus bristles are persistent. Smith described the receptacle as paleate, but the receptacle is, in fact, epaleate.
Cavea was originally separated from the genus Saussurea. It has been associated with the Inuleae in the older literature, but Merxmüller et al. (in Heywood et al., Biol. Chem. Compos. 1: 579. 1977) excluded it from that tribe because of its aberrant pollen-wall morphology. Anderberg considered it might be a relative of Saussurea in the Cardueae. Jeffrey (in Kadereit & C. Jeffrey, Fam. Gen. Vasc. Pl. 8: 146. 2007) considered it to be a Carduoid genus of uncertain placement, but he also noted that Cavea may prove to belong elsewhere in Asteraceae.
One species: Himalaya, including China.
(Authors: Chen Yousheng (陈又生); Arne A. Anderberg)