Robert W. Freckmann Herbarium
University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point

Vascular Plants

Plants of Wisconsin

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Featured Plant: Liatris aspera Michx.

Rough blazing-star,

Family: Asteraceae or Aster

Liatris: meaning lost in antiquity


aspera: Latin for "rough" or "harsh" from coarse nature of leaves

Lacerate blazing-star, rough blazing-star, tall gay-feather

Grows 6 to 48 inches tall in sunny open dry to dry-mesic sandy prairies. The leaves are rough, linear 1/2 to 3/4 inch wide and often with resinous dots on them.

The broadly rounded bracts, beneath the flowers, with crisp curled edges, helps identify this species.

The flower heads attach to the main stiff, erect, downy stem either without a stalk or on a very short one. 

 

 

As with all plants in the Asteraceae family, the flower head is made up of many small florets. In this case about 20-40 per head.

In late September to early October the seeds with fuzzy hairs replace the bright pink flowers ripening from the top down to be dispersed by the wind.

Ethnobotany: The plants grows from a rounded, fiber-covered corm (bulb). This bulb was used by Native Americans to increase the endurance of their horses. It was also used as a diuretic, stimulant, and a diaphoretic for humans. The corms were once dug and stored for winter use as food. The leaves produced a tea that was used to treat snakebite and for stomach aches. The stem has been used to produce a yellow dye using alum, chrome, tin or iron as mordants.

Other facts: This plant responds positively to fire. So the season after burning, it will often be seen in dense stands contrasting with the yellow of the goldenrods.

Propagation: The seeds can be easily collected by running your hand up the stems. Always leave some seeds on the plant to repopulate its own area. Scatter them in the late fall to be buried by snow and wait for the glorious bloom in the late summer or early fall in the coming years.

Blooming Buddies include: yellow - gray goldenrod (Solidago nemoralis), few-leaved sunflower (Helianthus pauciflorus); white - fragrant cudweed (Gnaphalium obtusifolium var. obtusifolium); pink -pale purple coneflower (Echinacea pallida).

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Vascular Plants

Plants of Wisconsin

Herbarium

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