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Native Wildflowers of the North Dakota Grasslands

JPG -- species photo

Narrow-leaved Blazing Star (Liatris punctata)


Also called "dotted gayfeather," narrow-leaved blazing star has been collected in every county in North Dakota. This is a true Great Plains plant, found from western Minnesota to Alberta south to Arkansas and New Mexico at elevations below 8,000 feet.

Narrow-leaved blazing star is perennial from a heavy, taprooted rootcrown. Plants usually are about 10-18 inches tall in North Dakota. The narrow, sandpapery leaves point strongly upward and are covered with tiny dots of resin. Bottom leaves are about four inches long, but get progressively smaller toward the top of the plant. One-to-two dozen light purple (rarely white) flower heads about 1/2 inch wide form spikes on the upper one third of the plant. The tiny achenes (seeds) bear a plume of bristles.

Look for narrow-leaved blazing star from July to September in dry native prairie pastures, especially those with sandy or gravelly soils. Plants are slightly more plentiful in pastures that are not severely overgrazed. The rootcrowns of this plant were used as food by Amerindians in New Mexico. Roots of some other members of the genus Liatris were used as tonics and stimulants.

Narrow-leaved blazing star is a member of the sunflower family (Asteraceae), one of the largest plant families in the world and the largest in North Dakota. There are about 30 species of Liatris; all are found in temperate North America from the Atlantic Ocean to the Rocky Mountains. The derivation of the name Liatris is unknown. Punctata means "with colored or translucent dots or pits" in botanical Latin. Narrow-leaved blazing star was described for science in 1834 by the famous British botanist Sir William Jackson Hooker in his monumental Flora Boreali-Americana.


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