Liatris cylindracea (Cylindric Blazing Star)
|Also known as:||Ontario Blazing Star, Barrelhead Gayfeather|
|Habitat:||sun; dry, open prairie|
|Bloom season:||July - September|
|Plant height:||9 to 24 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||none|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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1 to 28 (but typically few) pinkish-purple flower heads in a loose to dense raceme or spike at the top of the stem. Flower heads are ½ to ¾ inch across, spreading to erect, with or without a stalk up to ¾ inch long, and 10 to 35 flowers per head. Individual flowers are tubular with five pointed petal lobes and a long, thread-like divided style protruding from the center. The floral bracts are in 5 to 7 layers and form a cylinder up to ¾ inch long and about ¼ to 1/3 inch in diameter. Bracts are scale-like and pressed flat, oblong oval to oblong spatula-shaped, with an abrupt point at the tip and often brown to purplish. Like all blazing stars, the flowers first open at the top of the stem and progress down.
Leaves and stems:
Basal leaves are stalked, lance-linear or sometimes widest above the middle. Stem leaves are usually densely packed and alternate, mostly linear, 4 to 9½ inches long and 1/8 to ½ inch wide. The lowest stem leaves are short and sheath-like, the largest are just above them, reducing in size as they ascend the stem. Surfaces and are generally smooth, though edges may have fine cilia-like hairs. Stems are hairless, unbranched, may be multiple from the base, and are sometimes purple tinged, especially into the flower cluster.
Of Minnesota's 5 native Blazing Star species, L. cylindracea is our most restricted in range and frequency. It is most abundant on the dry hill prairies of our SE counties. Its smaller, narrow flower heads and flattened scale-like bracts easily distinguish it from other species.
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Photos by K. Chayka and Peter M. Dziuk taken at Whitewater Wildlife Managment Area, Winona County.
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