Description from Flora of China
Aplotaxis involucrata Karelin & Kirilov, Bull. Soc. Imp. Naturalistes Moscou 15: 389. 1842; Saussurea involucrata var. axillicalathina J. S. Li; S. ischnoides J. S. Li; S. karelinii Stscheglejew; S. lioui Y. Ling; S. polylada J. S. Li.
Herbs 15-50 cm tall, perennial. Caudex stout, unbranched, densely covered with fibrous remains of petioles. Stem solitary, 1.5-3 cm in diam., erect, simple. Rosette and stem leaves petiolate; leaf blade narrowly ovate, elliptic, or obovate, 8-13 × 2-4 cm, both surfaces green and glandular hairy, base decurrent, margin denticulate to serrulate, apex acute to obtuse. Uppermost stem leaves sessile, ovate to elliptic, 5.5-12 × 3.5-6.5 cm, membranous, stellately surrounding synflorescence, both surfaces pale yellow. Capitula 10-20, in a hemispheric synflorescence 8-15 cm in diam., sessile or shortly pedunculate. Involucre hemispheric to broadly campanulate, 1-2.5 cm in diam. Phyllaries in 3 or 4 rows, dark or light brown with dark margin, sparsely pubescent, apex acute; outer phyllaries narrowly ovate-elliptic, 8-11 × 2.5-5 mm; middle and inner phyllaries narrowly elliptic to linear, 10-18 × 1.5-2 mm. Receptacle papillose; papillae 0.5-1 mm. Corolla purple, 1.3-1.8 cm, tube 7-9 mm, limb 6-9 mm, lobes 3-5 mm. Achene straw-colored with blackish spots, cylindric, 4.8-6.7 mm, 5- or 6-ribbed. Pappus dirty white; outer bristles 0.5-3 mm; inner bristles 0.8-1.5 cm. Fl. Jul-Aug, fr. Aug-Oct. 2n = 32*.
The whole plant of Saussurea involucrata is used medicinally, and the species is endangered in China due to over-collecting.
Most previous records from the Chinese Altay probably belong to Saussurea orgaadayi, but the occurrence of S. involucrata cannot be excluded there.
Mountain slopes, mountain valleys, by water, meadows, in rock fissures; 2400-4100 m. C, N, and W Xinjiang [Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia].