It is native to China, and is an annual plant, growing to 20-80 cm tall with branched stems. The leaves are alternate, 4-8 cm long, ovate, and coarsely toothed. The flowerheads are variable, with either all ray florets or an outer ring of ray florets surrounding central disc florets; the ray florets are white to purple, the disc florets, if present, usually yellow.
It is a popular ornamental plant in gardens, and numerous cultivars are available; the cultivars are grouped by size, with very dwarf (up to 20 cm), dwarf (20-40 cm), intermediate (40-60 cm) and tall (60-80 cm). In Japan, the species is very important in the floriculture industry for cut flowers.