Description from Flora of China
Herbs, perennial or rarely annual. Stems erect, usually apically branched, mostly cobwebby to lanate or glandular hairy or both. Leaves spiny. Pseudocephalia usually solitary, terminal to stem and branches, rarely clustered, bracteate at base. Capitula deciduous, inserted on a globose secondary receptacle. Basal phyllaries grading into bristles; middle phyllaries keeled and distally with a ciliate margin, apex usually spiny; inner phyllaries often shorter, unarmed, distinct to completely connate. Corolla white, blue, or purple. Anthers bluish gray. Achene covered with long straight appressed hairs. Pappus scales distinct to connate, inserted directly on apical plate.
Echinops albicaulis Kamelin & Kirilov and E. chantaviscus Trautvetter have been reported from Xinjiang (G. M. Shen, Fl. Xinjiang. 5: 238, 241. 1999), but they are not included in the following treatment and key because no material from China has been seen by the present authors.
About 120 species: Africa, Asia, Europe; 17 species (five endemic) in China.