Liatris cylindracea (Cylindric Blazing Star)

Plant Info
Also known as: Ontario Blazing Star, Barrelhead Gayfeather
Family:Asteraceae (Aster)
Life cycle:perennial
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):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals Flower shape: indistinct Flower shape: tubular Cluster type: raceme Cluster type: spike

[photo of flowers] 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: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf attachment: basal Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] 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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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka and Peter M. Dziuk taken at Whitewater Wildlife Managment Area, Winona County.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Julian - Saint Croix Savanna SNA
on: 2016-09-03 17:25:00


Posted by: Aaron - Flying Cloud Drive, Hennepin County
on: 2018-08-28 00:01:39

Growing alongside L. aspera

Posted by: Phyllis Middagh - Worthington, Mn
on: 2020-08-31 13:14:29

Railroads, Shetak state park

Posted by: Scott Searcy - Pope Co.
on: 2020-09-02 09:20:18

I have found this 2 out of the last 4 years I've searched in Pope County. Be careful not to confuse damaged Dotted Blazing Star with this. When Dotted gets mowed or stepped on by a deer, it can look like Cylindric as it grows back.

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