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FutureStarrRough Blazing Star
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.
The two Missouri blazing stars most similar to rough blazing star are L. scariosa (savanna blazing star) and L. squarrulosa (Appalachian blazing star). Rough blazing star is the most common and widespread of the three; its swollen, pouchlike involucral bracts that look torn at the edges guarantee the ID. Also, its flowerheads are sessile on the plant stalk, while the others can have the flowerheads on short stems. Many types of insects visit blazing stars for food. Monarch butterflies are a famous example, but a wide variety of other butterflies, skippers, bees, beetles, flies, and other insects collect pollen or nectar. Aphids and other sap-suckers drink the plant juices with their strawlike bills. Many herbivorous insects chew on or bore into the leaves, flowers, stems, rootstocks, or other plant parts. Some, including a nifty pink-camouflaged moth (both the caterpillar and adult stages), are specialized to eat only blazing stars.
Many native prairie plants have roots that penetrate deep into the soil, and blazing stars are no exception. The closely related prairie blazing star, for example, has roots that can easily reach 10 to 12 feet below the surface! This enables the plants to reach life-giving moisture and survive in hot, dry, competitive environments. Over thousands of years, the presence of countless deep-rooted prairie plants built up the rich, fertile soils of the Great Plains. Before European settlement, more than a third of Missouri was covered by native tallgrass prairie. Butterflies, skippers, and bees are greatly attracted to the flowers of Liatris aspera. Many insects visit the flowers of Liatris aspera including honeybees, bumblebees, Little Carpenter bees, Miner bees, and Leaf-Cutting bees. Butterfly visitors include Monarchs, Painted Ladies, Black Swallowtails, Sulfurs, and more. Like all Liatris species, Button Blazing Star is great in flower arrangements both as fresh and dried as the flowers keep their purple color. (Source: www.prairiemoon.com)