Description from Flora of China
Herbs 25-40 cm tall, perennial. Caudex simple or few branched. Stem solitary, 4-6 mm in diam., erect, simple. Rosette and lower stem leaves petiolate; leaf blade narrowly elliptic to linear, 10-35 × 1-5 cm, both surfaces green, abaxially densely sericeous, adaxially sparsely villous, margin subentire to denticulate, apex acute. Middle and upper stem leaves sessile, narrowly elliptic to ovate or obovate to linear and boat-shaped, 5-16 × 1.5-4 cm, both surfaces green to dark purple, base semiamplexicaul, margin entire, apex acute to acuminate. Capitulum solitary. Involucre obconic to broadly campanulate, 3-3.5(-4.5) cm in diam. Phyllaries in 3 or 4 rows, blackish brown or purple, sericeous, apex acuminate; outer phyllaries narrowly triangular-ovate, 1.5-2.3 × 0.3-0.5 cm; middle phyllaries linear-subulate, 2.2-2.3 × 0.3-0.4 cm; inner phyllaries linear, 2.1-2.3 × 0.2-0.3 cm. Receptacle bristles 4-9 mm. Corolla dark purple, 1.8-2.1 cm, tube 1.1-1.2 cm, limb 7-9 mm, lobes 4.8-5.6 mm. Achene straw-colored with some black spots, cylindric to obovoid, 5-5.5 mm. Pappus yellowish brown; outer bristles 1.5-5 mm; inner bristles 0.8-1.4 cm. Fl. and fr. Jul-Sep.
We cannot confirm the record of Saussurea longifolia from Qinghai reported by S. W. Liu (Fl. Qinghai. 3: 450. 1996).
● Grasslands, thickets, alpine meadows; 3000-4700 m. ?Qinghai (Nangqên), SW Sichuan (Muli), SE Xizang, NW Yunnan.