Description from Flora of China
Saussurea chionophora Handel-Mazzetti; S. hypsipeta Diels; S. quercifolia var. major J. Anthony.
Herbs 4-15(-22) cm tall, perennial, polycarpic. Caudex 3-5 mm in diam., creeping, branched, with sterile leaf rosettes and flowering stems. Stem solitary, 0.5-1.5 cm in diam., erect, simple, hidden by reflexed leaves. Rosette and lower stem leaves petiolate; leaf blade elliptic to narrowly elliptic, 0.8-4.5(-8) × 0.5-1.5 cm, abaxially whitish with dark veins, tomentose, and gland-dotted, adaxially green and sparsely arachnoid, base cuneate-attenuate, margin obtusely dentate to pinnately divided, apex acute to obtuse. Upper stem leaves oblong to linear, 1-5 × 0.2-0.8 cm, abaxially and basally densely lanate, adaxially glabrescent, margin pinnately divided or entire, apex acuminate. Capitula 10-20, in a hemispheric synflorescence 2.5-5 cm in diam., sessile. Involucre cylindric, 5-8 mm in diam. Phyllaries in 3 or 4 rows, apically grayish villous, apex acute; outer phyllaries narrowly ovate-elliptic, 6-10 × 2.5-4 mm; middle and inner phyllaries narrowly elliptic to linear, (6-)9-12 × 1.5-4 mm. Corolla bluish purple, 0.8-1.2 cm, tube 4-6 mm, limb 4-6 mm, lobes 2-3 mm. Achene brown, obconic, 4-6 mm, smooth, glabrous. Pappus mouse-gray; outer bristles 1-5 mm, barbellate to plumose; inner bristles 7-12 mm. Fl. and fr. Jul-Oct.
Comparison of type material of Saussurea chionophora and S. quercifolia has shown that this is in fact a single species. No characters could be found to separate the two. Saussurea quercifolia is very variable in leaf size and division; the large specimens described as S. quercifolia var. major are included here.
For a synonymization of Saussurea hypsipeta see the discussion under S. inversa.
● Alpine scree slopes; 3300-5300 m. Qinghai, W Sichuan, EC and SE Xizang, NW Yunnan (Dêqên, Gongshan, Zhongdian).