Perennials, 10–30+ cm. Stems erect. Leaves mostly alternate; petioles 8–25(–35+) mm; blades elliptic to lance-elliptic, 50–80(–180+) × 12–20(–50+) mm overall, (1–)2(–3)-pinnately lobed (lobes ± deltate), bases cuneate, ultimate margins with ± deltate teeth, abaxial faces densely finely scabrellous (silvery gray), adaxial faces strigillose. Pistillate heads clustered, proximal to staminates; florets (1–)2. Staminate heads: peduncles 2–9 mm; involucres saucer-shaped (with black nerves), 3–6+ mm diam., strigillose; florets 25–40+. Burs: bodies ± pyriform, somewhat flattened, 1.5–2.5(–4) mm, finely scabrellous, spines (1–)8–12+, scattered, stoutly conic, 0.5–1+ mm, tips straight.
"Colonial perennial from creeping roots; lvs all or nearly all alternate, densely and conspicuously short-white-hairy beneath, greener and less hairy above, openly subbipinnatifid to subtripinnatifid with short and broad ultimate segments, the slender midstrip beset with small segments between the major ones; fruiting invols 4–6 mm, 2-seeded, with 2 sharp beaks and to 10 short spines in one or more cycles. Plains sp., casually intr. as far e. as Wis. and Ill. May–Aug. (Franseria discolor; Gaertneria d. not Franseria tomentosa, properly A. grayi (A. Nelson) Shinners, another Great Plains sp., with less dissected lvs that have a large terminal segment)"