Liatris aspera (Rough Blazing Star)
|Also known as:||Tall Blazing Star, Gayfeather|
|Habitat:||part shade, sun; dry prairies, open woods, along roads|
|Bloom season:||July - September|
|Plant height:||1 to 4 feet|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||none|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Flowers are in a spike-like cluster 6 to 18 inches long of purple to pink flower heads. Each flower head is about 1 inch across and made up of 25 to 40 star-shaped disk flowers with a long stringy divided style emerging from the center. The flower heads may be very short stalked but tend to be stalkless. Flowers bloom from the top of the plant down.
Leaves and stem:
Stem leaves are narrow and blade-like with a prominent central vein and pointed tip, averaging about 3 inches long. Basal and lower stem leaves, which usually wither away by flowering time, are up to 12 inches long, less grass-like in shape and are long stalked, becoming smaller, narrower and stalkless as they ascend the stem. Leaves have a rough texture from short stiff hairs. Attachment is alternate, but can be crowded on the stem so may appear to be whorled. The main stem is ridged and is also rough from short stiff hairs, but may become smooth with age. Stem color is green or purplish
There are 5 species of Blazing Star native to Minnesota and one relatively easy way to tell similar species apart is by the floral bracts. Rough Blazing Star has round bracts with fringed edges that curl or fold in, and its flower heads have little or no stalk. Most similar is Northern Plains Blazing Star (Liatris ligulistylis), which has longer stalked flower heads and has a preference for moister conditions.
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Photos by K. Chayka taken at Long Lake Regional Park, Ramsey County, and Wild River State Park, Chisago County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Anoka County and at Ordway Prairie, Pope County..
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?