Annuals, 10–80+ cm. Stems erect. Leaves opposite (proximal) and alternate; petioles 5–15(–25+) mm; blades ± deltate, 15–40(–85+) × 12–35(–80+) mm, 1–2-pinnately lobed, bases cuneate, ultimate margins entire or toothed, abaxial faces hispid and strigillose to sericeous, adaxial faces strigillose and gland-dotted. Pistillate heads clustered, proximal to staminates; florets 1. Staminate heads: peduncles 0.5–2 mm; involucres shallowly cup-shaped (usually each with 1–5+ black nerves), 3–5(–7) mm diam., sparsely hirsute or glabrous; florets 6–12(–20+). Burs: bodies fusiform to obpyramidal, 3–5 mm, ± hirsutulous or glabrate, spines 8–18+, scattered, stoutly subulate (sometimes basally flattened or navicular), 2–4(–5) mm, tips straight or uncinate. 2n = 36.
"Branching annual 1–8 dm, coarsely strigose to scabrous-hispid or both; lvs petioled, opposite below, alternate above, bipinnatifid (or the upper sessile and once pinnatifid), the blade 2–8 cm; heads numerous in terminal-racemiform clusters, sometimes chiefly staminate or chiefly pistillate; fruiting invols solitary or clustered in the upper axils, 5–10 mm, 1- fld and 1-beaked, with several series of flattened, divergent spines, these sometimes reduced in the chiefly staminate plants; 2n=36. Open places, especially in sandy soil; Wash. to Calif., e. to Sask. and Tex., and occasionally intr. eastward, as in Minn. and Mo. July–Oct. (Franseria a.; Gaertneria a.)"