Overview

Comprehensive Description

Description

This perennial plant is 2-5' tall and unbranched. The central stem is light green to purplish green, terete or slightly ridged, and glabrous to sparsely pubescent. The alternate leaves are up to 10" long and about 1/3" (8 mm.) across, becoming smaller as they ascend the stem. Because of their dense distribution, they appear almost whorled. The leaves are linear in shape and their margins are smooth (entire). Each leaf has a distinct central vein. Both the upper and lower leaf surfaces are light to medium green and glabrous to sparsely hairy. The central stem terminates in a wand-like spike of flowerheads about 4-18" in length. These flowerheads are densely crowded along the spike, facing in all directions; they bloom at the top of the spike first, opening later below. Each flowerhead is about 1/3" (8 mm.) across, consisting of 4-10 disk florets and no ray florets. The corolla of each disk floret is pink to purplish pink (rarely white) and narrowly tubular. The upper corolla divides in 5 small lobes that are lanceolate in shape and somewhat recurved. A deeply divided style is strongly exerted from the corolla; it is white to light pink, filiform, and sometimes slightly twisted or curved. Around the base of each flowerhead, there are appressed floral bracts (phyllaries) that are overlapping. These floral bracts are green to purple, glabrous, and oval in shape. The blooming period occurs from mid- to late summer, lasting about 3 weeks. There is no noticeable floral scent. Afterwards, the florets are replaced by small achenes with stiff bristles at their apices; these bristles are light brown. The root system consists of a corm with shallow fibrous roots. Colonies of plants are often formed by means of clonal offsets that involve the production of new corms.
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Liatris spicata, a member of the family Asteraceae, is commonly known as dense gayfeather and marsh blazing star (Lady Bird Johnson 2013). The perennial L. spicata grows to about one meter in height and is valued for its spike of crowded purple flowers. A spike describes the arrangement of flowers found attached directly to the stem. In addition, the plant can be identified by its linear leaves found growing along the stem to the base of the flower spikes (Lady Bird Johnson 2013). Liatris spicata has been recorded in the following states: AL, AR, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IL, IN, KY, LA, MA, MD, MI, MO, MS, NC, NJ, NY, OH, PA, SC, TN, VA, WI, WV and is listed as critically imperiled in Maryland and Delaware (Natureserve 2013).

Liatris spicata forms adventitious shoots from their cotyledons (embryonic leaves) and callus (cultured fragments taken from the cotyledons) (Stimart & Mather 1996: 154). Plant growth regulators will induce shoot (or stem) formation (Stimart & Mather 1996: 155). Medium supplemented with 22.2 µm of TDZ, a plant growth regulator, had the highest number of shoots per cotyledon (Stimart & Mather 1996: 154-155). Numbers of shoots per callus was greater (4.9 shoots per callus) with exposure to 4.4 µm of benzyladenine (BA) than with 2.2 µm TDZ (0.3 shoots per callus) (Stimart & Mather 1996: 155).

The purple-rose flower spikes are highly valued in the horticultural industry (Parks & Boyle 2002: 202). The effects of stratification (10 week incubation with moistened paper) and growth hormones (BA thiourea, and gibberellic acid) on seed germination were investigated at the University of Massachusetts (Parks & Boyle 2002: 202). Seed germination was 98% for the stratification treatment at 4 °C for 10 weeks (Parks & Boyle 2002: 203). Germination success was up to 95% with BA mixed with acetone (Parks & Boyle 2002: 203). The study showed that at 4 °C stratification shortened the time for germination and the use of BA accelerated germination (Parks & Boyle 2002: 205).

Espinosa et al. (1991) tested corm sprouting and flowering of Liatris spicata. A corm is a small flattened underground bulb. The optimal temperature for corm sprouting and flowering was 20 °C (Espinosa et al. 1991: 28). The study also showed that it took less time for flowering to occur when the plants were kept at 20 °C (Espinosa et al. 1991: 29).

Medve (1985: 152) studied the effects of fire on root hairs and fungal mycorrhizae or mass of filaments associated with L. spicata from Pensylvania. Plants from the three treatments (two consecutive spring burns, one spring burn, and area not burned) retained mycorrhizae and showed no significant differences in root hairs (Medve 1985: 153). Adaptation to fires may explain the results (Medve 1985: 154).

References:

Espinosa I., Healy W. & Roh M. 1991. The role of temperature and photoperiod on Liatris spicata shoot development. Journal of American society of horticulture 116:27-29.

Lady Bird Johnson. 2013. Liatris spicata. Available at: http://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=LISP; accessed on: November 15, 2013.

Medve, R. 1985. The effect of fire on the root hairs and mycorrhizae of Liatris Spicata. Ohio Journal of Science 85: 151-154.

NatureServe Explorer. 2013. Available at: http://www.natureserve.org; accessed on: November 15, 2013.

Parks C. A. & Boyle T. H. 2002. Germination of Liatris spicata (L.) Willd. seed is enhanced by stratification, Benzyladenine, or Thiourea but not Gibberellic acid. HortScience 37:202-205.

Stimart, D. P., Mather J. C. 1996. Regenerating adventitious shoots from in vitro cultur of Liatris spicata (l.) Willd. cotyledons. HortScience 31: 154-155.

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Distribution

Range and Habitat in Illinois

The native Marsh Blazingstar occurs in NE Illinois and a few scattered counties elsewhere (see Distribution Map). It is an uncommon plant in the wild. Habitats include moist black soil prairies, moist sand prairies, prairie swales, edges of marshes and bogs, grassy fens, calcareous seeps, moist alkaline sandflats, and areas along railroads. This blazingstar is found primarily in higher quality natural areas, especially where it is sandy. Faunal Associations
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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

Plants (20–)40–110(–180) cm. Corms globose to slightly elongate. Stems glabrous. Leaves: basal and lower cauline 3–5-nerved, narrowly oblong-lanceolate to narrowly spatulate-oblanceolate, 120–350 × (2–)4–10(–20) mm (sometimes becoming more densely arranged distally), usually gradually reduced distally, essentially glabrous or sparsely villous, weakly gland-dotted (glandular hairs often not evident, bases of basal often fibrous-persistent). Heads in dense to loose, spiciform arrays. Peduncles usually 0, rarely 1–2 mm. Involucres turbinate-cylindric to turbinate-campanulate, 7–11 × 4–6 mm. Phyllaries in (3–)4–5 series, ovate to oblong, unequal, essentially glabrous, margins with hyaline borders, sometimes ciliolate, apices rounded to obtuse. Florets (4–)5–8(–14); corolla tubes glabrous inside. Cypselae (3.5–)4.5–6 mm; pappi: lengths ± equaling corollas, bristles barbellate.
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Diagnostic Description

Synonym

Serratula spicata Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 2: 819. 1753; Lacinaria spicata (Linnaeus) Kuntze
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Ecology

Habitat

Range and Habitat in Illinois

The native Marsh Blazingstar occurs in NE Illinois and a few scattered counties elsewhere (see Distribution Map). It is an uncommon plant in the wild. Habitats include moist black soil prairies, moist sand prairies, prairie swales, edges of marshes and bogs, grassy fens, calcareous seeps, moist alkaline sandflats, and areas along railroads. This blazingstar is found primarily in higher quality natural areas, especially where it is sandy. Faunal Associations
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Associations

Flower-Visiting Insects of Marsh Blazingstar in Illinois

Liatris spicata (Marsh Blazingstar)
(Long-tongued bees suck nectar or collect pollen; short-tongued bees collect pollen only; Syrphid flies and beetles feed on pollen; other insects suck nectar; all observations are from Graenicher.)

Bees (long-tongued)
Apidae (Bombini): Bombus auricomus sn cp, Bombus griseocallis sn cp, Bombus pensylvanica sn cp; Anthophoridae (Eucerini): Melissodes agilis sn cp, Melissodes trinodis sn cp; Megachilidae (Megachilini): Megachile addenda sn cp, Megachile latimanus sn cp

Bees (short-tongued)
Halictidae (Halictinae): Agapostemon texanus texanus cp

Flies
Bombyliidae: Exoprosopa fasciata sn; Syrphidae: Eristalis tenax fp, Sphaerophoria contiqua fp

Butterflies
Pieridae: Colias philodice sn, Pieris rapae sn; Nymphalidae: Boloria selene myrina sn, Cercyonis pegala sn, Danaus plexippus sn, Speyeria cybele sn, Speyeria idalia sn

Skippers
Hesperiidae: Polites peckius sn, Polites themistocles sn

Moths
Noctuidae: Mythimna unipuncta sn

Beetles
Cantharidae: Chauliognathus pennsylvanicus fp

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Liatris spicata

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Liatris spicata

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 2
Specimens with Barcodes: 8
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: N2 - Imperiled

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N4 - Apparently Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Cultivation

The preference is full sun, moist conditions, and sandy loam. Other soil types, such as loam and gravelly loam, are readily tolerated in cultivation. The soil should possess sufficient organic material to retain moisture. The height of this plant can vary considerably, depending on its maturity, soil moisture, and soil fertility. During hot dry weather, the lower leaves may wither away, otherwise this plant presents few problems.
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Wikipedia

Liatris spicata

Liatris spicata, the dense blazing star or prairie gay feather, is an herbaceous perennial plant native throughout most of eastern North America.[1] Native to moist prairies and sedge meadows.

Gardenology.org-IMG 0012 rbgm10dec.jpg
LiatrisSpicata.jpg

Liatris spicata var. resinosa is found in the southern part of the species natural range,[2] the variable plants have only 5 or 6 flowers per head and the heads are more widely spaced on the stems, these differences are more pronounced when the plants are found in drier and coastal habitats.[3]

Cultivation[edit]

Liatris spicata is a garden flower in many countries around the world, grown for its showy purple flowers (pink or white in some cultivars). The tall spikes of purple flowers appear in July and August. It thrives in full sun in ordinary garden soil and is excellent for attracting birds and butterflies. Under cultivation it is found under many names including; button snakewort, Kansas gay feather, blazing star, Liatris callilepis.[4]

Liatris spicata 'Alba' and Liatris spicata 'Floristan White' are white flowering cultivars.[5]


References[edit]

  1. ^ http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=LISP USDA PLANTS database
  2. ^ http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=1&taxon_id=250068573
  3. ^ Henry A. Gleason (1963). The New Britton and Brown Illustrated Flora of the Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada: Illustrated by Original Drawings : 3 Vol. New York Botanical Garden. p. 498. 
  4. ^ http://www.shootgardening.co.uk/plant/liatris-spicata
  5. ^ http://pss.uvm.edu/pss123/perliat.html
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Notes

Comments

Liatris spicata is sold as cut flowers. It also is commonly sold as a garden plant in various genetic permutations (probably derived from var. spicata, perhaps from L. lancifolia) and it apparently escapes cultivation. Reports from Arkansas, Connecticut, and Quebec probably reflect plants growing in or escaped from gardens.

A geographic disjunction within Liatris spicata occurs between the coastal plain element (var. resinosa) and the inland/montane element (var. spicata), although plants morphologically referable to var. resinosa occasionally are encountered in montane North Carolina and Tennessee and var. spicata-like plants occur in the range of var. resinosa. Apparent intergrades between the two taxa are common, especially in Tennessee and Alabama. The geographical gap is widest in Georgia and Alabama. Neither variety occurs naturally west of the Mississippi River, except for a historical record of var. spicata in Oregon County, Missouri (Kellogg s.n., MO), where the population has now been genetically "swamped" by L. pycnostachya (G. A. Yatskievych, pers. comm.).

In both var. spicata and var. resinosa, marked variation (dimorphism) in head size occurs, the large-headed plants apparently occurring in scattered geographic enclaves without a broader geographic pattern. It seems possible that independent populational origins of polyploidy might underlie the variation.

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