Liatris squarrulosa Michx.
Family - Asteraceae
Stems - To +1m tall, simple, single from rounded corm, herbaceous, glabrescent basally, tomentose and purplish above, erect, terete, stout.
Leaves - Alternate, sessile. Lowest leaves to -30cm long, spatulate to narrowly oblanceolate, glabrous or scabrous, quickly reduced upward. Upper leaves linear to linear-oblong, scabrous, entire, with single prominent midrib and no apparent lateral venation, reduced to scales by inflorescence.
Inflorescence - Determinate. Single flower heads from upper axils creating a spikiform effect. Flower heads sessile or on short thick peduncles to 7mm long. Each flower head subtended by a scalelike bract. Flowers +40 per head. Heads to +/-3cm broad.
Involucre - To 1.5cm tall(long), 1.4cm in diameter. Phyllaries green below fading into purple above at apex, with rounded apices, spreading to slightly reflexed, NOT tightly appressed, spatulate, to 1.3cm long, 5mm broad at apex, sparse appressed pubescent and punctate externally, glabrous internally, imbricate. Upper margin appearing minutely lacerate or erose.
Ray flowers - Absent.
Disk flowers - Corolla tube 8mm long, white below, fading to pink above, glabrous externally, 5-lobed. Lobes pinkish-rose, 3-4mm long, glabrous, acute. Stamens 5, adnate about 1/3 way from base of tube. Filaments white, glabrous. Anthers connate around style, brownish-purple, 3mm long, included. Style bifurcate, white below, pink above, glabrous, 1.7cm long, well exserted. Achenes barbed, +/-5mm long, white, 10-ribbed. Pappus of numerous barbed bristles to 9mm long. Bristles with pink tinge especially at apex.
Flowering - July - October.
Habitat - Open woods, slopes, bluffs.
Origin - Native to U.S.
Other info. - Just look at that big striking flower head. This is a great plant. It is often overshadowed by other members of the genus but I don't see why. The plant is not common in Missouri but is found in many parts of the U.S.
Photographs taken off Hwy 21, Shannon County, MO., 8-31-03.