Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
ASTER FAMILY (Compositae or Asteraceae)
IND. STATUS: FAC-
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).