Description from Flora of China
Microlonchus albispinus Bunge, Del. Sem. Hort. Dorpat. 8. 1843; Centaurea albispina (Bunge) B. Fedtschenko; Oligochaeta leucosmerinx K. H. Rechinger & Köie.
Herbs, annual. Stem very short; stem and branches white, puberulent. Leaves shortly petiolate; leaf blade elliptic, oblanceolate, linear-oblanceolate, or spatulate, 2-6 × 0.3-0.7(-1.5) cm, glabrous or abaxially sparsely shortly strigose, base cuneate-attenuate, apex acute; marginal spines simple or 2-6-digitate, white, 1-5 mm. Capitula few to many congested at end of a branch. Involucre narrowly ovoid-ellipsoid, 12-14 × 4-5 mm. Phyllaries in ca. 5 rows, glabrous, apex acuminate and tipped with a short spine; outer phyllaries ovate, 5-6 × 2-3 mm; middle phyllaries elliptic to elliptic-lanceolate, 8-10 × 2-3 mm; inner phyllaries elliptic to linear, ca. 12 × 1.5 mm, scarious, apex often purple tinged. Corolla yellow or pink, 5-6 mm. Achene pale, ellipsoid-obovoid, compressed, ca. 4 × 2 mm, glabrous, shiny; lateral attachment scar almost 1/2 as long as achene; apical rim regularly denticulate. Pappus absent in sterile florets; pappus elements of fertile florets white but inner ones darker at base; outer pappus bristlelike, to 7 mm; inner pappus a single bristle, 8-9 mm, ca. 0.5 mm wide at base. Fl. and fr. Jun.
Sandy areas; ca. 600 m. Xinjiang (Junggar Pendi) [Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan; SW Asia].