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Dotted Blazing Star Liatris punctata


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Dotted Blazing Star
credit: Matt Lavin from Bozeman, Montana, USA/CCSA

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Alternate name: Dotted Gayfeather

Family: Asteraceae, Aster view all from this family

Description Native herbaceous perennial. Taprooted.
Habit: erect, with one or several unbranched stems.
Height: 4-32 in (10-80 cm).
Leaf: very narrow, oblong, arched; specked; 2-4.5 in (50-140 mm) long, 1/16-3/8 mm (1-7 mm) wide.
Flower: dense upright spike, to 12 in (30 cm) long, of small purple to pink flowers clustered on the upper 1/3 of the stem.
Fruit: hard-shelled seed, 1/4-3/8 in (6-9 mm) long, bristled.

Flower August to November.

Flower August - October

Habitat Dry, open, upland sites, especially sandy soil; prairie, plains, and hills.

Range Native to the Great Plains and Midwest; from Montana to New Mexico, east to Michigan, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, and Texas; at 300-6000 ft (100-1900 m). Now naturalized in Ohio, Tennessee, Louisiana; also cultivated as an ornamental.

Discussion Also known as: blazing star, dotted gayfeather, dotted button snakeroot, plains gayfeather. Listed as endangered in Wisconsin; probably extirpated in Michigan. Rayless heads of purple flowers and slender, often plume-like bristles on the fruits generally identify this complex genus of the East that barely extends into the West. This plant can live 35 years or more.

Comments A long taproot makes this the most drought-tolerant of the gayfeathers. A bushier plant is formed if it is cut back or mowed during the growing season. This is a long-lived plant that is tolerant of alkaline soils.

Exposure Preference Sun.

Native Distribution Alberta to New Mexico, e. to Michigan, Iowa, w. Missouri, Arkansas & Texas; naturalized eastward

Site Preference Loess hills; prairies

Soil Preference Well-drained, sandy, calcareous soils.

Wildlife Value Liatris spp. attract butterflies.