Liatris Squarrosa or

Liatris Squarrosa or

Liatris Squarrosa

Nesom, Guy L. (2006). "Liatris squarrosa". In Flora of North America Editorial Committee (ed.). Flora of North America North of Mexico (FNA). Vol. 21. New York and Oxford – via eFloras.org, Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.Scaly gayfeather or blazing star may have one or several stems, each erect, unbranched, and 10-24 in. tall. Its leaves are not as numerous as in most other Liatris species. Tuft-like, red-violet flower heads are few and openly spaced in a spike along the top of the stem. Multiple small disc flowers are arranged in heads up to 1 inch wide and can be sparsely arranged up the stem. Individual flowers are purple/lavender and tubular in shape with 5 petals. The scaly bracts are either straight or recurved and loosely arranged around the base of each flowerhead. This is one of the earlier blooming Liatris plants and blooms from June to August.



The flowerheads are cross-pollinated primarily by bumblebees, butterflies, and skippers. In general, several insect species feed on Liatris spp. (Blazingstars). These species include: the caterpillars of Schinia sanguinea (Blazingstar Flower Moth), which feed on the florets and developing seeds; the caterpillars of Papaipema beeriana (Blazingstar Borer Moth) and Carmenta anthracipennis (Liatris Borer Moth), which bore through the stems; and the aphids Aphis laciniariae and Aphis craccivora, which suck plant juices. The foliage and flowerheads of Blazingstars are edible to many mammalian herbivores, including cattle, horses, sheep, goats, deer, rabbits, and groundhogs. Where these mammals are abundant, Blazingstar populations usually decline.caly Blazingstar is highly variable across its range and several varieties have been described. Generally, all of these varieties have relatively large floral bracts with pointed tips that are either loosely arranged or recurved along the bottoms of the flowerheads. However, there is considerable variability in the following characteristics: 1) the size of individual flowerheads can be variable with 15-45 (or more) disk florets, 2) the flowerheads can be sessile or they can have short to medium-length peduncles, 3) the leaves and stems can be glabrous to hairy, and 4) the floral bracts that define the base of each flowerhead can be either straight or strongly recurved. Scaly Blazingstar differs from other Liatris spp. (Blazingstars) primarily by the characteristics of its scaly floral bracts, which provide it with a rather odd appearance.

Scaly Blazing Star is the perfect Liatris for hot, dry sites. At only two feet tall it is smaller than other Blazing Stars, and its leaves are not as numerous. The tufted flower heads are openly spaced along the top of the stem, and the flower bracts are prominently recurved. As with all Liatris species, it is very attractive to butterflies and pollinators. Its low stature and a preference for full sun and barren soil make this Liatris an excellent candidate for rock gardens. Plant it along with other low-growing prairie flowers such as Whorled Milkweed, Prairie Onion, White Prairie Clover, Dotted Mint or Showy Goldenrod.Notes: Liatris squarrosa is shorter than L. pycnostachya (1’ to 1 1/2’ tall), with stiff, spreading hairs on the stem. The leaves are shorter (from 3” by 1/4” to 2” by 3/16”), with stiff hairs on the lower surface and with the leaf bases narrowing abruptly. The inflorescence is shorter (2” to 4”) with fewer heads, although they sometimes overlap. The heads are larger (5/8” long), and the fillaries have long, abrupt, spreading tips (especially the lower) with marginal spreading hairs. The fruits are similar. Flowering is from late July to late August, and fruiting begins in early August. L. squarrosa is infrequent on dry and rocky prairies but does not occur in the Loess Hills. (Source: uipress.lib.uiowa.edu)



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