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Content tagged with "gayfeather"

Photo of dense stand of prairie blazing star or gayfeather at Pawnee Prairie

Prairie Blazing Star (Gayfeather; Button Snakeroot)

Liatris pycnostachya
To understand the name "gayfeather," imagine yourself as a settler journeying west through what were formerly vast expanses of native tallgrass prairie. These showy flowers must have lifted hearts, even when the wagon wheel broke!

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Photo of dense stand of prairie blazing star or gayfeather at Pawnee Prairie

Prairie Blazing Star (Gayfeather; Button Snakeroot)

To understand the name “gayfeather,” imagine yourself as a settler journeying west through what were formerly vast expanses of native tallgrass prairie. These showy flowers must have lifted hearts, even when the wagon wheel broke!

Read more

Photo of prairie blazing star or gayfeather flowering stalks

Prairie Blazing Star (Gayfeather; Button Snakeroot)

The individual flowerheads of blazing stars (in the genus Liatris) and ironweeds (in the genus Vernonia) are quite similar: both groups have reddish-purple, fuzzy-looking flowerheads of 5-lobed, tubular florets with 2 long, threadlike style branches. However, blazing stars have the flowerheads arranged on a single, unbranching stalk, while ironweeds bear their flowerheads in branching clusters at the tops of the plant stems.

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Photo of several prairie blazing stars or gayfeathers in a prairie

Prairie Blazing Star (Gayfeather; Button Snakeroot)

Blazing stars are an important (and showy) part of the complex community of plants in the tallgrass prairie. There are 9 species of Liatris recorded for Missouri, and many of these have been known to hybridize where they occur in the same vicinity. This species, L. pycnostachya, is one of our most common, statewide.

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Photo of several prairie blazing stars or gayfeathers in yellow sunlight

Prairie Blazing Star (Gayfeather; Button Snakeroot)

Gayfeather occurs in glades, upland prairies, ledges and tops of bluffs, savannas, openings of upland forests, and rarely banks of streams; also ditch banks, fencerows, pastures, railroads, and roadsides. You can also find it at native plant nurseries and even florists’ shops!

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Photo of rough blazing star showing flowerheads at tip of stalk

Rough Blazing Star (Rough Gayfeather)

Liatris aspera
Rough blazing star is fairly common and scattered nearly statewide. To distinguish between Missouri’s nine species in the genus Liatris, start by noting details of the flower structure. It’s not hard when you know what to look for.

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Photo of rough blazing star stalk closeup showing side view of flowerheads

Rough Blazing Star (Rough Gayfeather)

Rough blazing star, Liatris aspera, can be told from other Missouri blazing stars by its involucral bracts—the overlapping leaflike structures at the base of each flowerhead. In this species, they are rounded, somewhat spreading, appearing pouched or swollen, and mostly with broad, thin, pale to transparent margins that are sometimes strongly purplish-tinged.

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Photo of rough blazing star showing flowerheads at tip of stalk

Rough Blazing Star (Rough Gayfeather)

Rough blazing star is fairly common and scattered nearly statewide. To distinguish between Missouri’s nine species in the genus Liatris, start by noting details of the flower structure. It’s not hard when you know what to look for. In this species, note the rounded, pouched, purple-edged bracts at the base of the flowerhead.

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Photo of rough blazing star flowerhead closeup showing individual florets

Rough Blazing Star (Rough Gayfeather) (Closeup)

Rough blazing star and all blazing stars are members of the sunflower family and thus have numerous tiny flowers grouped together into a flowerhead. In this closeup, you can see the individual purple flowers in a single flowerhead. Each flower (floret) has a tubular, 5-lobed, purple corolla and 2 threadlike, long-protruding style branches.

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Photo of blooming rough blazing star plants in a glade

Rough Blazing Star (Rough Gayfeather) (In Glade)

Blazing stars are an important (and showy) part of the complex community of plants in Missouri’s tallgrass prairie and glade habitats. Rough blazing star can be found nearly statewide.

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