Cutleaf teasel is a biennial or sometimes monocarpic perennial forb. The plant grows as a basal rosette for a minimum of one year then sends up a tall flowering stalk and dies after flowering. The period of time in the rosette stage varies depending on the amount of time needed to acquire enough resources for flowering to occur. The flowers are almost white (tannish) or white with spiny, awned bracts at the base. The floral bracts at the base of the head are generally longer than the head and wider than Common teasel. Flowering plants have large, oblong, opposite leaves that form cups and are prickly. The fruits are four-angled achene, each contains a single seed. A single teasel plant can produce over 2,000 seeds. Rosette leaves are conspicuously veined, vary from somewhat ovoid in young plants to large and oblong leaves that are quite hairy in older plants. Stem leaves are simple, opposite, broad, and feathering lobed. Mature plants can grow up to or over six feet tall. Cutleaf teasel blooms from July through September.