Plants (20–) 40–75 cm tall. Basal leaves 1–3; cauline leaves 1–2, in lower half of stem, c. 8–16 cm long, (1–2–) 3–5 mm wide, flat, ±convolute. Lower bract to 10–15 cm long, longer or shorter than inflorescence. Inflorescence of (1–) 4–7 (–12) ±obconical (later hemispherical) (2–) 5–8 (–12)-flowered pale heads on rigid peduncles to c. 10 cm long; secondary branches rarely present, subterminal. Capitulum bracts scarious to stramineous, distinctly 3–5-veined, 6–8 mm long. Tepals subequal, subacute, 4.2–5.3 mm long, pale brown to deep castaneous-brown; margins membranous, broad; central band often paler, 3-veined. Anthers 0.6–1.5 mm long; filaments 2–3 mm long; style 0.5–0.8 mm long; stigmas 2–2.5 mm long. Capsule 6.5–9.5 mm long, brown, sometimes straw-brown. Seed appendages c. 0.8–1.2 mm long. 2n = 120, fide P.G.Zhukova & V.V.Petrovkiy, Bot. Zhurn. 60: 396 (1975) [as var. borealis].