Liatris spicata (L.) Willd.

sessile-headed blazing star

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New England Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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North America Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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Facts About

Sessile-headed blazing star is a popular plant for the garden, which likely explains its occasional presence in New England (Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island), somewehat to the north and east of its native range. The Cherokee made use of this plant, especially the roots, in herbal medicine.

Habitat

Anthropogenic (man-made or disturbed habitats), meadows and fields

Characteristics

Habitat
terrestrial
New England state
  • Connecticut
  • Maine
Leaf type
leaves are simple (i.e., lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets)
Leaf arrangement
  • alternate: there is one leaf per node along the stem
  • basal: the leaves are growing only at the base of the plant
Leaf blade edges
the edge of the leaf blade has no teeth or lobes
Flower type in flower heads
the flower head has disk flowers only, and lacks the strap-shaped flowers
Ray flower color
NA
Tuft or plume on fruit
at least a part of the plume is made up of fine bristles
Spines on plant
the plant has no spines
Leaf blade length
120–350 mm
Flower head width
Up to 2.9 mm
Disk flower number
  • 1-5
  • 11-20
  • 6-10
Show All Characteristics
  • Flowers
    Bract color
    the bracts are not colored or tinged with pink, red or purple
    Bract cycle number
    there are three or more cycles of bracts
    Bract inner side hairs
    the bracts are not hairy on their inner surfaces
    Bract margins
    • there are few or no fine hairs along the bract margins
    • there are fine hairs along the bract margins
    Bract outer side hair type
    the bracts are not hairy on their outer surface
    Bract outer side hairs
    the bracts are not hairy on their outer surfaces
    Bract shape
    • the main bracts are oblong (roughly rectangular but rounded at the ends)
    • the main bracts are ovate (egg-shaped)
    Bract spines
    the bracts have no spines
    Bract tip color
    the tips are the same color as the center of the bract
    Bract tip orientation
    the bracts are pressed against the plant, or spreading out at the tips
    Bract tip shape
    • the tips of the bracts are obtuse (have a blunt point)
    • the tips of the bracts are rounded
    Bracts
    there are at least two distinct forms of bracts in different cycles
    Disk flower color
    • blue to purple
    • pink to red
    Disk flower number
    • 1-5
    • 11-20
    • 6-10
    Disk flower reproductive parts
    the disk flower has both pollen- and seed-producing parts
    Disk flower shape
    the disk flower is tube-shaped (cylindrical), or gradually widening like a funnel
    Flower head outer flowers
    at the outer edge of the flower head, the flowers have no enlarged lobe or strap, and are of similar size as those in the center of the disk
    Flower head platform
    the base has no bristles or papery scales
    Flower head profile
    the disk is flat or nearly flat across the top
    Flower head shape
    • the flower head is shaped like a cone with the point up
    • the sides of the flower head are roughly parallel, like a cylinder
    Flower head width
    Up to 2.9 mm
    Flower type in flower heads
    the flower head has disk flowers only, and lacks the strap-shaped flowers
    Height of flower head base
    7–11 mm
    Inflorescence branching (Solidago)
    NA
    Inflorescence shape
    the inflorescence is not flat-topped but appears rounded, with some flower heads distinctly higher than others
    Inflorescence stem
    the stem of the inflorescence is not hairy
    Ovary cross-section
    the ovary has five or more corners in cross-section
    Ovary hairs
    the ovary has hairs on it
    Ovary lines or ribs
    • there are seven to nine ribs visible on the ovary
    • there are ten or more ribs visible on the ovary
    Ovary profile
    in profile, the ovary is another shape
    Peduncle length
    0–2 mm
    Ray flower color
    NA
    Ray flower reproductive parts
    NA
    Ray flowers
    NA
    Reproductive system
    all the flowers on the plant contain both carpels and stamens
    Smaller bracts at base of bracts
    there is a cycle of much smaller bracts outside the cycle of larger and longer bracts
    Style branches
    the style branch is wider at the tip and has a flattened end, or the style branches are wider at the tips and have flattened ends
    Width of flower head base
    4–6 mm
  • Fruits or seeds
    Number of pappus parts
    11 or more
    Ovary length in developed fruit
    3.5–6 mm
    Seed hair tuft details
    the pappus hairs are hooked or barbed
    Seed hair tuft tips
    the pappus hairs are slender
    Seed hairs uniform
    all the pappus hairs are approximately the same length
    Seed tuft type
    the pappus is made of very fine hairs or bristles
    Tuft or plume on fruit
    at least a part of the plume is made up of fine bristles
  • Glands or sap
    Leaf blade glands
    the leaf blades have glandular (translucent) dots or scales
    Ovary glands
    there are glands on the ovary surface
  • Growth form
    Growth form
    the plant has one or more free-standing stems
    Plant lifespan
    the plant is perennial, it shows evidence of previous year's leaves, stems or stem bases
    Spines on plant
    the plant has no spines
    Underground organs
    • the plant has a rhizome (a horizontal underground stem with roots growing from it)
    • the plant has one or more swollen storage organs underground, such as bulbs, tubers or corms
  • Leaves
    Hairs on underside of leaf blade
    • the underside of the leaf is fuzzy or hairy
    • the underside of the leaf is not hairy, or has very few hairs
    Hairs on upper side of leaf blade
    the upper side of the leaf is not hairy, or has very few hairs
    Leaf arrangement
    • alternate: there is one leaf per node along the stem
    • basal: the leaves are growing only at the base of the plant
    Leaf blade base
    • the leaf has a distinct petiole
    • the leaf has no petiole
    Leaf blade base shape
    the base of the leaf blade is cuneate (wedge-shaped, tapers to the base with relatively straight, converging edges), or narrow
    Leaf blade edges
    the edge of the leaf blade has no teeth or lobes
    Leaf blade hairs
    • the leaf blade has hairs with glands at their tips
    • the leaf blade has simple hairs with no glands, and not tangled or wooly
    Leaf blade length
    120–350 mm
    Leaf blade shape
    • the leaf blade is lanceolate (lance-shaped; widest below the middle and tapering at both ends)
    • the leaf blade is oblanceolate (lance-shaped, but with the widest point above the middle of the leaf blade)
    • the leaf blade is oblong (rectangular but with rounded ends)
    • the leaf blade is spatulate (spoon-shaped; narrow near the base, then suddenly widening to a rounded tip)
    Leaf blade veins
    the leaf blade has three main veins running from the base towards the tip
    Leaf blade width
    4–20 mm
    Leaf disposition
    the lower leaves are larger, toothier, and/or on longer stalks than the upper leaves
    Leaf spines
    there are no spines on the leaf edges
    Leaf type
    leaves are simple (i.e., lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets)
    Specific leaf type
    the leaves are simple (i.e., lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets
  • Place
    Habitat
    terrestrial
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Maine
    Specific habitat
    • man-made or disturbed habitats
    • meadows or fields
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Leaves on stem
    there is at least one full leaf above the base of the flowering stem
    Stem internode hair direction
    NA
    Stem internode hair type
    the stem has no hairs between the nodes
    Stem internode hairs
    the stem has no hairs between the nodes

Wetland Status

Occurs in wetlands or non-wetlands. (Wetland indicator code: FAC)

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

Connecticut
present
Maine
absent
Massachusetts
present
New Hampshire
absent
Rhode Island
present
Vermont
absent

Conservation Status

Exact status definitions can vary from state to state. For details, please check with your state.

Massachusetts
unranked (S-rank: SNR)

var. spicata

Massachusetts
unranked (S-rank: SNR)

Native to North America?

Yes and no (some introduced)

Sometimes Confused With

Liatris pycnostachya:
outer involucral bracts acute to short-acuminate at apex, squarrose, and axis of capitulescence usually hirsute (vs. L. spicata, with the outer involucral bracts obtuse to rounded at apex, erect, and axis of capitulescence usually glabrous).
Liatris novae-angliae:
capitula borne mostly on short peduncles 10–50 mm long, with mostly 25–80 flowers, disk flowers longer than 11 mm, pubescent adaxially, and involucre 9–17 mm tall (vs. L. spicata, with the capitula +/- sessile, with mostly 5–10 flowers, disk flowers 7–11 mm long, glabrous adaxially, and involucre 7–11 mm tall).

Synonyms

  • Lacinaria spicata (L.) Kuntze

Family

Asteraceae

Genus

Liatris

Notes on Subspecies and Varieties in New England

Our variety is Liatris spicata (L.) Willd. var. spicata.

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

3.  Liatris spicata (L.) Willd. var. spicata E

sessile-headed blazing star. Lacinaria spicata (L.) Kuntze • CT, MA. Fields, roadsides, waste areas.