Russian knapweed is a non-native, deep-rooted perennial that spreads by aggressive, creeping, horizontal roots (rhizomes) and seeds. The roots are brown to black with a scaly appearance. Russian knapweed can grow up to 3 feet in height. The stems and leaves are covered with short gray hairs. The flowers are urn-shaped, pink to purple in color, and are solitary at the tips of the upper branches. Russian knapweed can be distinguished from other knapweeds by the smooth, papery, rounded bracts that surround the flowers. Russian knapweed emerges in early spring after soil temperatures remain above freezing. It produces flowers from June to August and sets seeds in late summer to early fall. The seeds are viable for two to three years. Russian knapweed reproduces primarily from its root system. Buds on the horizontal roots can form adventitious shoots, August through the winter, that can grow to become independent plants. Once rosettes emerge in the spring, remaining root buds slough off until they develop again in late summer. Additionally, root fragments can develop into new plants.