Lovely Liatris

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Published on: Jul. 2, 2002

Last revision: Nov. 12, 2010

and has been commercially cultivated. It grows in moist to dry prairies and occasionally in glades and open woodlands. The flowers bloom from mid-July to early August.

The unbranched plants are usually from 20 to 60 inches tall. They are covered with narrow leaves that can be one-foot long and up to one-half inch wide at the base of the plant. They are smaller higher up the stems. The flower clusters crowd together to form a solid, purplish pink spike that can be more than a foot long. In fact, the species name, pycnostachya, means "thick-spiked."

Each flower cluster usually has five to 10 flowers. The stems, flowering spikes and bracts are usually hairy. The bracts curve backward and have pointed tips.

Rough blazing star - Liatris aspera

Liatris aspera has flower clusters arranged alternately along the spike, with space between the clusters. There are 16 to 35 individual flowers per cluster. The unbranched stems can grow up to 4 feet tall. The plants have short hairs on the stems and leaves, or are hairless. The leaves at the base of the plant can be up to 16 inches long and 2 inches wide. They are shorter up the stems.

You can usually identify this plant by its height and the arrangement of the flower clusters, but to be sure, look at the bracts. They are rounded, with papery edges that are rolled backward.

Liatris aspera is more widespread than L. pycnostachya and grows in prairies, savannas, glades and dry, open, rocky woods. It usually blooms in late summer and early fall. The second part of this plant's name, aspera, means rough, and probably refers to the texture of the leaves.

Cylindrical blazing star - Liatris cylindracea

The word cylindracea refers to the cylinder-shaped flower heads of this species. This delicate blazing star grows mostly in southern and central Missouri and is much smaller than the previously described species. It grows on dolomite glades and occasionally in rocky open woodlands and prairies. It blooms from midsummer to early fall.

The plant grows up to 2 feet tall and has one to 10 flower heads per plant. Each flower head has 10 to 35 individual flowers.

The leaves and stem are almost always without hairs. The leaves at the base of the plant are short, become longer in the middle, then shorter at the top of the stem. The bracts of

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