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Liatris species [Asteraceae]

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Scientific Name Liatris aspera USDA PLANTS Symbol LIAS
Common Name Rough Gayfeather, Tall Blazing Star ITIS Taxonomic Serial No. 37909
Family Asteraceae (Sunflower) SEINet
Reference
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Description Habitat: Sandy soils in prairies and open fields, open oak-juniper and oak-pine woodlands, etc.
Plant: Erect perennial with usually a single unbranched, stiff, rough stem from 16 inches to 5 (or more) feet tall.
Leaves: Basal leaves usually withering before flowering; stem leaves single-nerved (one vein), linear-lanceolate or nearly linear; lower leaves 3 to 10 inches long and up to 1 inch wide, becoming much smaller upward; lower leaves mostly smooth, upper covered with short, stiff hairs.
Inflorescence: Many dark purple to lavender or pink composite flowers spaced out in a long spike along the stem; heads generally sessile or with short peduncles, each with 18 to 24 florets (rays are absent); green phyllaries in a series of 4 to 5, outer ones reflexed.
Bloom Period: July to October.
References: "Manual of the Vascular Plants of Texas" by Correll and Johnston, "Wildflowers of Texas" by Michael Eason and SEINet.
BONAP Distribution Map

Texas Status:
Native
Scientific Name Liatris cymosa USDA PLANTS Symbol LICY2
Common Name Branched Gayfeather, Branched Blazing Star, Aggie-land Gayfeather ITIS Taxonomic Serial No. 37916
Family Asteraceae (Sunflower) SEINet
Reference
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Description Habitat: Clay-loam, chalky or gravelly soils in grasslands, fields, post-oak woodland openings and fencerows.
Plant: Erect perennial with one or more leafy, branched stems from 8 to 30 inches; with short, stiff or pubescent hairs.
Leaves: Basal and stem leaves linear to narrowly oblanceolate, single-nerved (one vein), 3 to 8 inches long, reduced on upper half of stems, sessile to clasping, hairless surfaces and gland-dotted (punctate); stem leaves alternate and linear.
Inflorescence: A few to many purple composite flowers in an open cyme-like arrangement, each head with ~20 to 25 florets (rays are absent); bell-shaped to cylindrical involucre with several series of phyllaries; outer phyllaries almost round and slightly hairy, inner ones with pointed tips and may be purple-tinged.
Bloom Period: July to October.
References: "Manual of the Vascular Plants of Texas" by Correll and Johnston, "Rare Plants of Texas" by Poole, Carr, Price and Singhurst and Flora of North America.
Note: L. cymosa is a rare plant, endemic to a few counties in SE Texas. It is the only Liatris with branched stems. These photos were taken in mid-October, and the blooms were well-past their prime.
BONAP Distribution Map

Texas Status:
Native
Endemic
Scientific Name Liatris elegans USDA PLANTS Symbol LIEL
Common Name Pinkscale Gayfeather, Pinkscale Blazing Star ITIS Taxonomic Serial No. 37919
Family Asteraceae (Sunflower) SEINet
Reference
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Description Habitat: Sandy soils in open areas in fields, brushlands and woodlands and along roadsides.
Plant: Erect perennial with one or 2 stiff, leafy stems from 12 inches to 4 feet tall; pubescent-hairy.
Leaves: Basal leaves usually withering before flowering; alternate stem leaves, linear to linear-lanceolate, 2-3/8 to 8 inches long and less than 1/3-inch wide, becoming smallar upward; sessile, hairless and gland-dotted (punctate).
Inflorescence: Many white to pink composite flowers in a long crowded cylindrical or somewhat pyramid-shaped spike 6 to 20 inches long; heads usually sessile or with short peduncles and each with 4 or 5 florets with 5 white to pink reflexed corolla lobes.
Bloom Period: August to October.
References: "Manual of the Vascular Plants of Texas" by Correll and Johnston, "Wildflowers of Texas" by Michael Eason, "Wildflowers of Texas" by Geyata Ajilvsgi and Flora of North America.
BONAP Distribution Map

Texas Status:
Native
Scientific Name Liatris punctata (Liatris mucrata) USDA PLANTS Symbol LIPU
Common Name Dotted Gayfeather, Dotted Blazing Star ITIS Taxonomic Serial No. 37936
Family Asteraceae (Sunflower) SEINet
Reference
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Description Habitat: Dry sandy or calcareous, rocky soils; prairies, open areas.
Plant: Erect perennial with a few to numerous, smooth, stiff, unbranched stems, 1 to 3 ft. tall, growing in wide-spreading clump.
Leaves: Alternate, narrowly linear, sessile; lower leaves 2 to 4 inches long and less than 1/4-inch wide, reducing size gradually upward becoming short bracts near the inflorescence; surfaces are gland-dotted (punctate), margins usually ciliate.
Inflorescence: Flower heads in a dense spike 3 to 24 inches long, each head less than 3/4-inch long with 3 to 6 flowers; flowers with leafy phyllaries with pointed tips; no ray flowers; disk florets with 4 or 5 purple or pink lobes and protruding white style divided into two branches.
Bloom Period: August to December.
References: "Manual of the Vascular Plants of Texas" by Correll and Johnston, "Wildflowers of Texas" by Michael Eason, L. mucronata in "Wildflowers of Texas" by Geyata Ajilvsgi and "Wildflowers of the Texas Hill Country" by Marshall Enquist, and Kansas Wildflowers and Grasses.
Note: There are two dominant varieties of L. punctata in Texas, mucronata and punctata. The difference are the shape of the corm (bulb), mucronata being more or less spherical and punctata being elongated. Also, punctata is more common in the western 2/3 of the state and into the Panhandle whereas mucronata is found in the central part of the state (eastern part of the Hill Country and further east). Differences in phyllary shape (mucronate vs. apicular tips) is less definitive. The plants shown here could be either variety.
BONAP Distribution Map

Texas Status:
Native
Scientific Name Liatris pycnostachya USDA PLANTS Symbol LIPY
Common Name Cat-tail Gayfeather, Prairie Blazing Star ITIS Taxonomic Serial No. 37937
Family Asteraceae (Sunflower) SEINet
Reference
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Description Habitat: Sandy, moist or dry soils in prairies and open woods, general in piny woods of East Texas, but also in Bastrop County.
Plant: Erect perennial with one or more stiff, unbranched stems, 2 to 4 ft. or more tall, somewhat hairy with dark longitudinal striations.
Leaves: Linear to narrowly oblanceolate or oblanceolate stem leaves up to 4 inches long and 3/8 to 1/2 inch wide near base becoming progressively smaller upward; hairy.
Inflorescence: Composite flowers spaced out in a long spike along the upper part of the stem; heads generally sessile (without peduncles), each flower head with green to purple spreading phyllaries below 5 to 12 pink florets (no rays), each surrounded by purplish pappus hairs.
Bloom Period: June to October.
References: "Manual of the Vascular Plants of Texas" by Correll and Johnston and SEINet.
BONAP Distribution Map

Texas Status:
Native

© Tom Lebsack 2021