Description from Flora of China
Echinops ritro var. tenuifolius (Fischer ex Schkuhr) Candolle; E. tenuifolius Fischer ex Schkuhr.
Herbs 20-60 cm tall, perennial. Stems solitary or tufted, whitish to grayish white, unbranched or apically branched, densely cobwebby to lanate. Leaves leathery, abaxially whitish to grayish white and densely cobwebby to thickly lanate, adaxially green and glabrous or sparsely cobwebby. Basal and lower cauline leaves petiolate; leaf blade elliptic, oblanceolate, or linear-elliptic, 8-20 × 2-8 cm, pinnatipartite or subpinnatisect; proximal segments transformed into spines; distal segments elliptic to lanceolate, 5-8 pairs, with triangular, spiny, and spine-tipped teeth. Middle and upper cauline leaves similar but sessile, sometimes bipinnatisect. Pseudocephalia corymbose, rarely solitary, 3.5-4.5 cm in diam. Capitula 1.2-1.7 cm. Phyllaries 20 or 21, abaxially glabrous; outermost phyllaries oblanceolate, 3-4 mm, 1/5-1/4 as long as involucre, distal portion broadly elliptic, cartilaginous, margin shortly ciliate, and apex acuminate; middle phyllaries elliptic to oblanceolate, 1.3-1.5 cm, margin long patent ciliate in distal half, apex spinulose acuminate; inner phyllaries shorter. Corolla blue, tube gland-dotted outside. Achene ca. 5.5 mm, hairs brown. Pappus scales linear, ca. 1.2 mm, connate in proximal half. Fl. and fr. Jun-Aug. 2n = 30, 32.
Several subspecies were described from the European part of the species range. The Chinese plants possibly belong to Echinops ritro subsp. ruthenicus (M. Bieberstein) Nyman (E. ruthenicus M. Bieberstein).
Gravelly places on mountain slopes; 400-2400 m. N Xinjiang [Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Russia, Turkmenistan; SW Asia, Europe].