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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Wetland Plants and Plant Communities of Minnesota and Wisconsin


(Liatris pycnostachya Michaux)


ASTER FAMILY (Compositae or Asteraceae)


FIELD CHARACTERISTICS: An erect, perennial herb 60-150 cm. high. The stems are hairy with numerous, essentially linear leaves. The leaves are gradually reduced upwards on the stem. The sessile, disc-like flower heads are crowded (usually more than 20 heads) on a spike. Each head usually contains 5-7 perfect tubular flowers. Ray flowers are absent. The modified leaves (involucral bracts) subtending the flowers taper to a long point and are bent back or spreading. Flowers are pink-purple, occasionally white, and in bloom from July to mid-September.

ECOLOGICAL NOTES: Gayfeather, also known as prairie blazing star, is largely restricted to wet and wet-mesic prairie remnants in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and some calcareous fens. It is similar to marsh blazing star (Liatris spicata), which has smooth stems and appressed involucral bracts.

SOURCE: Gleason and Cronquist (1991); and Swink and Wilhelm (1994).

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