Liatris aspera Michx.

Rough Gayfeather


CC = 6
CW = 5
MOC = 75

© DETenaglia

Family - Asteraceae/Eupatorieae

Habit - Perennial forb with a globose to ovoid corm, this sometimes appearing somewhat erect and angular or irregular.

Stems - Ascending to erect, to 1.8 m, ribbed, moderately to densely pubescent with short, curled hairs, sometimes nearly glabrous toward the base.

Liatris_aspera_stem.jpg Stem and nodes.

© SRTurner

Leaves - Alternate, petiolate below, sessile above. Basal and adjacent lower stem leaves short-to long-petiolate, the blades 6-25 cm long, 4-25 mm wide, oblanceolate to narrowly elliptic (rarely broader), the surfaces glabrous to densely short-hairy and gland-dotted, green, with 1 main vein, grading abruptly to the shorter stem leaves, these mostly sessile, 2-10 cm long, narrowly oblanceolate to more commonly linear.

Liatris_aspera_leaf1.jpg Leaf adaxial.

© SRTurner

Liatris_aspera_leaf1a.jpg Leaf adaxial surface.

© SRTurner

Liatris_aspera_leaf2a.jpg Leaf abaxial.

© SRTurner

Liatris_aspera_leaves.jpg Leaf abaxial surface.

© DETenaglia

Liatris_aspera_plant_base.jpg Leaves near the base of the plant.

© DETenaglia

Inflorescence - Elongate spicate racemes, the heads mostly relatively loosely to more densely spaced, the axis usually visible between heads, sessile or with stalks to 8 mm long, these usually with only 1 basal bract.

Liatris_aspera_inflorescence.jpg Inflorescence.

© SRTurner

Heads - Heads with 14-30 disc florets, the terminal head not noticeably larger than the others. Involucre 9-16 mm long, broadly cup-shaped to broadly bell-shaped, with 4 or 5 unequal, overlapping series of bracts, the outer series appearing progressively shorter. Involucral bracts broadly obovate to oblong-spatulate, all but the innermost series spreading or recurved at the tip, mostly with broad, thin, pale to transparent margins, the margins or entire bracts sometimes strongly purplish-tinged, appearing irregularly torn or strongly uneven, the main body appearing swollen or pouched toward the tip.

Liatris_aspera_involucre.jpg Involucre.

© DETenaglia

Liatris_aspera_phyllaries.jpg Involucral bracts.

© SRTurner

Flowers - Ray florets absent. Disk florets to 30 per head. Corollas 8-11 mm long, 5-lobed, the tube hairy on the inner surface, glabrous externally. Pappus bristles barbed. Stamens 5, adnate near the basal 1/3 of the corolla tube. Filaments white, pubescent. Anthers brownish, connate around the style, 3-4 mm long, partially exserted. Style white in lower 1/3, purple in apical 2/3, glabrous, divided for the apical 2/3, to 1.3 cm long. Stigmas spreading. Achenes white in flower, 3mm long. Pappus of many capillary bristles. Bristles barbellate, 6-8mm long, white with purple apices.

Liatris_aspera_flowers.jpg Florets.

© DETenaglia

Fruits - Achenes 4-6 mm long, densely antrorse pubescent.

Liatris_aspera_fruits.jpg Fruits.

© SRTurner

Flowering - August to November.

Habitat - Upland prairies, loess hill prairies, glades, ledges and tops of bluffs, savannas, forest openings, pastures, railroads, roadsides. Also cultivated.

Origin - Native to the U.S.

Other info. - This species of Liatris is fairly common across Missouri. Its wider range is largely defined by a wedge-shaped band extending from southern Texas and Louisiana northward through Minnesota and into Canada. It is also popular in cultivation. This is also an easy species to identify in the field from its distinct phyllaries. These have a distinct pouched appearance with ragged-looking margins.

Liatris aspera is an attractive plant well worth a spot in the garden.

Photographs taken off Hwy 60 and off Hwy C, Carter County, MO., 8-28-03 (DETenaglia); also at McGee Creek State Park, Atoka County, OK, 7-26-2016, and Little Lost Creek Conservation Area, Warren County, MO, 9-6-2016 (SRTurner).