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Rough Blazing Star Liatris aspera


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Rough Blazing Star
credit: EPA - Great Lakes National Program Office

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Alternate name: Tall Gayfeather

Family: Asteraceae, Aster view all from this family

Description A spike of rounded, rayless, pinkish to lavender (sometimes white) flower heads along stiff erect stems covered with grayish hairs.
Habit: native perennial herb; erect zigzagging stems; clump-forming.
Height: 1-6 ft (30-180 cm)
Leaf: alternate, rough, narrow; at base, long-stalked, 3-12 in (8-30 cm) long, to 1 in (3.5 cm) wide; 25-90 leaves per stem; becoming smaller and stalkless above; basal leaves usually wither before flowering.
Flower: shaggy button, pink or purple (rarely white), 3/4-1 in (2-2.5 cm) wide; held in terminal spike, 18-32 in (45-80 cm) tall, 14-35 uniformly sized flowerheads, blooming from the top down; rounded, flared bracts.
Fruit: dry seed, 1/8-1/4 in (3-6 mm) long; tipped with white bristles.

Flower August to October.

Flower August - September

Habitat Sunny sites on silt loam or sandy soil: open plains, thin woods, prairies, barrens, old fields, sand dunes, ridges, fields, stream bottoms, sandstone outcrops, limestone ridges, hills, oak, oak-juniper, and oak-pine woodlands, jack pine, railroads; from 160 to 1600 ft (50-500 m), rarely to 3000 ft (900 m); also widely cultivated as an ornamental.

Range Native to eastern and central North America, from Ontario and New York south to Florida, west to Texas, and north to North Dakota; not reported in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware or Maryland.

Discussion Also known as: tall blazing star, lacerate blazing-star, tall gayfeather, rough gayfeather. Three varieties are recognized, apart from the species. This species is distinguished by its roughness and rounded bracts. The origin of the genus name is unknown; the species name is Latin for "rough.".

Comments Drought tolerant.

Exposure Preference Sun.

Native Distribution S. Ontario to West Virginia & South Carolina, w. to North Dakota & e. Texas

Site Preference Dry plains; prairies; thin woods

Soil Preference Sandy or rocky soils.

Wildlife Value Butterflies frequent Liatris spp.