Description from Flora of China
Saussurea auriculata Franchet, Nouv. Arch. Mus. Hist. Nat., sér. 2, 10: 40. 1887, not (Candolle) Schultz Bipontinus (1846).
Herbs 50-100 cm tall, perennial. Stem solitary, erect, simple or apically few branched, glabrous. Basal leaves petiolate, sometimes withered at anthesis; petiole to 12 cm; leaf blade ovate to narrowly ovate-elliptic, 5.5-15 × 1.5-5 cm, abaxially pale green, often tinged purple, and glabrous, adaxially dark green and glabrous, base cuneate-attenuate, margin serrulate, apex acuminate. Lower, middle, and upper stem leaves usually sessile, gradually smaller upward on stem; leaf blade narrowly ovate-elliptic to oblong, to 15 × 3 cm, basally slightly constricted, base auriculate and amplexicaul. Capitula 1-3, long pedunculate. Involucre campanulate, 1.5-2 cm in diam. Phyllaries in 4 or 5 rows, dark purplish brown, leathery, glabrous or sparsely pilose, apex acute to acuminate and reflexed; outer phyllaries ovate, 8-10 × 4-5 mm; middle phyllaries 10-16 × 2-4 mm; inner phyllaries narrowly ovate-elliptic, 16-19 × ca. 2 mm. Corolla purplish red, 1.4-1.6 cm, tube 7-8 mm, limb 7-8 mm, lobes 4-5 mm. Achene blackish brown, cylindric, 4-5 mm, ribbed, glabrous, apex with a short crown. Pappus straw-colored to reddish; outer bristles scabrid. Fl. and fr. Jul-Aug.
Saussurea neofranchetii was described from a specimen without basal leaves. Whereas the lower stem leaves can either be sessile or petiolate, the basal leaves are always distinctly petiolate.
● Forest margins, thickets, montane grasslands; 3000-3800 m. W Sichuan, NW Yunnan (Lijiang, Zhongdian).