Description from Flora of China
Cirsium sect. Epitrachys Candolle ex Duby; C. subg. Lophiolepis Cassini; C. subg. Orthocentron Cassini; Echenais Cassini; Epitrachys (Candolle ex Duby) K. Koch; Eriolepis Cassini; Lophiolepis (Cassini) Cassini; Onotrophe Cassini; Orthocentron (Cassini) Cassini.
Herbs, annual to perennial, bisexual or dioecious. Stems (when developed) unwinged or sometimes with spiny wings. Leaves subentire to bipinnately divided, lanceolate or wider, margin spinulose or spiny. Capitula solitary to clustered. Phyllaries numerous, regularly imbricate or of subequal length, abaxially often with a dark glandular resinous medial swelling below apex, apex ending in a straight or gradually recurved spine, spinule, or acumen. Florets normally all bisexual, or if unisexual then plants dioecious. Stamen filaments pubescent; anther with short subentire to lacerate basal appendages. Achene narrowly obovoid, laterally compressed, often with 4 or more slender spaced longitudinal ribs or striae, otherwise smooth; apical rim forming a smooth-margined upright crown; elaiosome crowned by an inconspicuous disk. Pappus of 3 or 4 rows of plumose bristles, outer ones not much shorter than inner.
In addition, the following four species have been reported to occur in Taiwan: Cirsium ferum Kitamura (Acta Phytotax. Geobot. 1: 149. 1932), C. hosokawae Kitamura (loc. cit.: 57), C. kawakamii Hayata (J. Coll. Sci. Imp. Univ. Tokyo 30(1): 159. 1911), and C. suzukii Kitamura (loc. cit.: 58). As no material has been seen by the present authors, these taxa have not been included in the following treatment and key.
About 250-300 species: N Africa, Asia, Central and North America, Europe; 46 species (23 endemic) in China.
(Authors: Shi Zhu (石铸 Shih Chu); Werner Greuter)