can most readily be identified from its holly-like leaves, which are round or oval, the length approximately equal to or only slightly greater than the width - other species have leaves which are more elongated. Leaf edges are lined with large, irregularly-spaced teeth. Leaves and the branched stems are hairless. Leaves are rigid, and the surface is leathery. Flowerheads are produced singly, at the tips of the branches; they have a bell-shaped involucre enclosed by several rows of wide, ovate phyllaries, green at the base, purple higher up.
Flowerheads contain between 15 and 24 disc florets, which have a two-tipped corolla, white or pale pink in color. The lower lip has two notches at the tip and is larger than the upper lip, which has one notch. The outer florets are lined by a ring of up to 80 pappus bristles, colored white or pale brown.