Liatris ohlingerae (S. F. Blake) B. L. Rob. — Overview

Scrub Blazingstar learn more about names for this taxon

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The endangered Liatris ohlingerae, also known as sandtorch, scrub blazing star and Florida’s blazing star, is a perennial herb that can live to ten years (Evans et al. 2003: 236).

L. ohlingerae is found in nutrient-poor white sands along Florida’s ridges and is associated with scrub oaks, rosemary scrub. The species can also be found along roadsides (Weekley et al. 2008: 236).

In the scrubby flatwoods of Highlands and Polk Counties, Florida, 30 populations of L. ohlingerae were surveyed (Dolan et al, 1999: 1558). The median population size was 170 plants in a median area of 3634 m2, wiht a mean population density of 0.19 plants per m2 (Dolan et al, 1999: 1557).

The inflorescence of L. ohlingerae is often made up of several heads, of which each head contains up to 25 bright purple disk flowers that produce nectar (Evans et al, 2003: 239-40). L. ohlingerae flowers are in bloom for about one month, usually between June and August (Dolan et al, 1999: 1558; Evans et al, 2003: 239). The flowers are self-incompatible, requiring out-crossing rather than self-fertilization (Weekley et al. 2008: 5)

Butterflies (Hesperiidae, Pieridae, and Papilionidae) are attracted to the purple tubular flowers and nectar (Evans et al. 2003: 240). At the Archbold Biological Station in Highlands County, Florida, Liatris ohlingerae is frequented by various butterflies that visited for 15 to 30 minutes per single plant (Evans et al. 2003: 237). L. ohlingerae has shown high levels of gene flow among the low-density populations (Dolan et al, 1999: 1559-60) and this may be due to butterflies pollinating different populations across long distances (Evans et al. 2003:: 242).

L. ohlingerae releases achenes, 8-9 mm dry fruits each containing one seed, that are carried by wind away from the parent (Dolan et al, 1999: 1558). The number of seeds produced by L. ohlingerae is significantly low when open pollination occurs (33% produced seeds) (Evans et al, 2003: 241).

A second study conducted at the Archbold Biological Station investigated the germination requirements of Liatris ohlingerae in the presence of Florida rosemary (Ceratiola ericoides) and time-since fire (Weekley et al. 2008: 237). In the Florida rosemary treatment, 40% of the seeds were missing and 8% were predated by arthropods after 10-12 days (Weekley et al. 2008: 239). Percentage of seed loss was highest in unburned areas (>30 years since fire, 56% seed loss) as opposed to recently burned sites (<5 years since fire, 41%). In addition, seed loss was greatest near Florida rosemary (59%) than 2 m away (42%). Germination was highest in the long-unburned sites and 2 m from the Florida rosemary (33% germination) as compared to sites 0 meters from Florida rosemary (6% germination) (Weekley et al. 2008: 239). L. ohlingerae persistence is likely affected by fire and seed predation (Weekley et al. 2008: 239).

References

Evans, M., Menges, E. S. & Gordon, D. R. 2003. Reproductive biology of three sympatric endangered plants endemic to Florida scrub. Biological Conservation, 111: 235-46.

Dolan, R. W., Yahr, R., Menges, E. S. & Halfhill, M. D. 1999. Conservation implications of genetic variation in three rare species endemic to Florida rosemary scrub. American Journal of Botany: 86: 1556-562.

Weekly, C. W., Tucker, J., Valligny, S., & Menges, E. S. 2008. Germination ecology of Liatris ohlingerae (S.F. Blake) B.L Rob. (Asteraceae), an endangered herb endemic to Florida scrub. Castanea 73: 235-247.

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