A taprooted, short-lived perennial named for the spotted bracts immediately below the many lavender flowers. A single plant can have a single stem or as many as 20 stems. Blooms June through July. By the end of its first year, a knapweed plant is a small basal rosette. It usually bolts in the second year, producing branched stems. The leaves are alternate, deeply lobed, and pale blue-gray. Flowers are small, thistlelike, and light purple to pinkish purple or rarely white. The numerous flowers can produce as many as 1,000 seeds per plant. The seeds have pappuses (little hairs) that enable wind dispersal.