Liatris spicata (L.) Willd.

Liatris spicata plant

Family - Asteraceae

Stems - To +80cm tall, herbaceous, glabrous(or very sparsely pubescent), simple, single or multiple from the base.

Leaves - Alternate, grass-like, to 2cm broad, 30cm long, reduced upward, glabrous or very sparsely pubescent, sessile.

Inflorescence - A terminal spike to 30cm tall (long). At least lowest flower heads subtended by a small foliaceous bract. Heads fairly dense.

Liatris spicata inflorescence

Involucre - To 1cm broad, +1cm tall. Phyllaries appressed, with scarious margins, tips rounded.

Liatris spicata involucreInvolucre.

Ray flowers - Absent.

Disk flowers - Typically 3-18 flowers per head. Corolla tubular, rose to purple, glabrous internally. Pappus of capillary bristles.

Liatris spicata flowersFlowers.

Liatris spicata floretFloret.

Flowering - June - September.

Habitat - Meadows, slopes. Also cultivated.

Origin - Native to Eastern U.S.

Other info.  - This species is not native to Missouri but is often cultivated here and escaped.
The non-flowering plants greatly resemble grass clumps. The spikes of L. spicata slightly resemble those of L. pycnostachya but L. spicata has phyllaries which are appressed and obtuse instead of recurving and acuminate.
L. lancifolia (Greene) Kittell. is a very similar plant and the two may be synonymous with each other.

Photograph taken at the Kansas City Zoo, 6-28-99, and in Marquette, MI., 9-5-2003.


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