Russian knapweed is a member of the Asteraceae or Sunflower family. Russian knapweed grows 1 to 3 feet tall. Stems are erect, covered with fine, white hairs, and openly branched. Lower leaves are often lobed and toothed, and 2 to 4 inches long. Upper leaves are entire or serrated on upper leaf margins, but are attached to the stem without a stalk at their base. Flowers are cone-shaped and 1/4-to 1/2- inch in diameter. Flower heads, found at the tip of the leafy branches of the plant, are usually pink to lavender in color. Involucral bracts that have a pearly, rounded appearance with papery margins, surround the seeds of the plant as they develop. The root of the plant is dark brown to black in color and the plant is scaley and brown. Russian knapweed seeds are oblong, grey-brown and approximately 1/16 of an inch in length. The seeds are ridged and covered with many fine, white hairs and a ring of bristles on the apex of the seed.
Russian knapweed is considered a noxious weed under North Dakota state law, thus landowners are required to eradicate or control the spread of the plant.