Native to Central Europe, it is a simple perennial that reproduces from seed and forms a new shoot each year from a taproot. The plant can have one or more shoots up to four feet tall. Flower color is usually lavender to purple. Spotted knapweed occupies dry meadows, pastures, stony hills, roadsides, and the sandy or gravel flood plains of streams and rivers, where soils are light textured, well-drained, and receive summer precipitation. Spotted knapweed tolerates dry conditions, similar to diffuse knapweed, but will survive in higher-moisture areas as well.
The occurrence of scattered, isolated patches are increasing throughout Garfield County, with one large infestation located just west of the Riverbend subdivision southeast of New Castle. It has also been found in North Dry Fork northwest of DeBeque, the East Divide area, the Cardiff area south of Glenwood Springs and along Battlement Creek.