A tap-rooted, 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, lavender, and thistlelike. The numerous flowers can produce as many as 1,000 seeds per plant. The seeds have pappuses (little hairs) that enable wind dispersal.