Description from Flora of China
Herbs 40-150 cm tall, biennial or perennial. Stems erect, apically usually branched, sparsely hirsute, usually cobwebby above; wings toothed, teeth with slender spines 1-3 mm at margin and apex. Leaves dark green, abaxially sometimes gray and thinly cobwebby, sparsely hirsute along veins. Lower cauline leaves sessile, ± narrowly elliptic or oblanceolate, 5-18 × 1-7 cm, pinnatifid or lowermost undivided; segments 7-12 pairs, elliptic, triangular, or ovate-triangular, margin spinulose and unequally toothed, teeth triangular, laterally with short spinules, and apically with a spine to ca. 3 mm. Middle cauline leaves similar but smaller. Uppermost cauline leaves oblanceolate to broadly linear. Capitula mostly 3-5 clustered at end of stem or branches, rarely solitary. Involucre subglobose, 1.5-2(-2.5) cm in diam., glabrous or sparsely cobwebby. Outer phyllaries triangular, ca. 3 × 0.7 mm, apex mucronulate to spiniform; middle phyllaries 4-13 × 0.9-2 mm, narrowed into a triangular-subulate erect-patent or spreading spiny-tipped distal portion; inner phyllaries linear, straight, distally membranous and acuminate. Corolla purplish red or rarely white, ca. 1.5 cm, tube ca. 7 mm. Achene ca. 4 mm. Pappus bristles white, to 1.3 cm. Fl. and fr. Feb-Oct. 2n = 16, 16+2B, 18.
Carduus crispus is weedy but a good nectariferous plant. It is widely naturalized in North America.
Grasslands on mountain slopes, farmlands, wastelands, by rivers, forests; 400-3600 m. Widely distributed in China (but see discussion for Carduus acanthoides) [Kazakhstan, Korea, Mongolia, Russia; SW Asia, Europe].