Description from Flora of China
Saussurea thibetica Franchet, J. Bot. (Morot) 8: 338. 16 Oct 1894, not S. tibetica C. Winkler (1894); S. leucota Handel-Mazzetti.
Herbs 60-100 cm tall, perennial. Rhizome stout. Stem solitary, erect, much branched in apical part, unwinged. Basal and lower stem leaves withered at anthesis. Middle stem leaves petiolate; petiole 4-7 mm; leaf blade narrowly ovate to narrowly elliptic, 10-18 × 1.5-3 cm, abaxially white and densely tomentose, adaxially green and sparsely strigose, base cuneate, margin denticulate, apex acuminate. Upper stem leaves narrowly ovate-elliptic, gradually smaller upward on stem. Capitula very numerous, in an ample corymbiform-paniculiform synflorescence, pedunculate. Involucre cylindric, 5-6 mm in diam. Phyllaries in 5 or 6 rows; outer phyllaries ovate, 2-3 × 1.5-2 mm, sparsely arachnoid, apex acuminate; middle phyllaries narrowly elliptic, 3-6 × 1-1.5 mm, densely villous, apex acute; inner phyllaries narrowly elliptic, 6-9 × 1-1.5 mm, sparsely villous, apex obtuse. Receptacle bristles to 5 mm. Corolla purple, 0.9-1.1 cm, tube 5-6 mm, limb 4-5 mm, lobes 2.5-3 mm. Achene brown, ca. 3 mm, ribbed. Pappus white; outer bristles ca. 2 mm; inner bristles ca. 8 mm. Fl. and fr. Aug-Sep.
Saussurea leucota, described from W Sichuan, is preliminarily included here as a synonym; it may deserve separate taxonomic status. It is certainly not conspecific with S. salicifolia.
● Forests, forest margins, near mountain trails, mountain slopes; 1200-2200(-4600) m. Hubei, Sichuan.