Liatris cylindracea Michx.
CC = 7
CW = 5
MOC = 36
Family - Asteraceae/Eupatorieae
Habit - Perennial forb from a globose corm.
Stems - Erect, to 60 cm, single or multiple from base, glabrous or sparsely hairy toward the base, light green, somewhat striate from decurrent leaf tissue.
Leaves - Alternate, simple, sessile or short-petiolate, numerous and crowded on stem. Basal and adjacent lower stem leaves with blades 8-25 cm long, 2-6 mm wide, linear, the margins usually light, hard, and thickened, often curled under, the surfaces glabrous or the undersurface sparsely to moderately pubescent with short, spreading hairs, green, with 3-5 main veins, grading to the shorter stem leaves, these mostly sessile, 2-12 cm long, linear. Upper stem leaves often ciliate at the base.
Inflorescences - Elongate determinate racemes, the heads loosely spaced with the axis easily visible between heads, these sessile or more commonly with stalks 2-35 mm long, with 1 or few basal bracts. Inflorescence axis sparsely pilose.
Heads - Discoid, with 10-35 florets, the terminal head usually slightly longer than the others. Involucre 11-20 mm long, narrowly cup-shaped to nearly cylindrical, with 5-7 unequal, overlapping series of bracts. Involucral bracts broadly ovate-triangular to oblanceolate-oblong, the outer series broadly rounded or narrowed to a sharply pointed, appressed tip, grading to the inner series with a truncate to abruptly rounded tip, often with an abrupt, minute, sharp point, mostly with narrow, thin, pale to transparent margins, these sometimes slightly to strongly purplish-tinged, the main body appearing flat below the tip.
Flowers - Ray flowers absent. Disk flowers with the corollas 12-14 mm long, 5-lobed, glabrous externally, usually pubescent internally, pink to purple. Pappus bristles plumose. Stamens 5, adnate about halfway up the corolla tube, mostly included. Filaments thin and translucent, 2 mm long, glabrous. Anthers yellowish-brown, 3 mm long, with scarious apices, weakly connate around the style. Style white, glabrous, deeply bifurcate, well exserted. Stigmas pinkish-purple, pubescent.
Fruits - Achenes 5-7 mm long, ribbed, slightly wedge-shaped, minutely hairy.
Flowering - July - September.
Habitat - Glades, ledges and tops of bluffs, upland forest openings, upland prairies, pastures, roadsides.
Origin - Native to the U.S.
Lookalikes - L. squarrosa, L. squarrulosa, L. hirsuta.
Other info. - This species is mainly found in the southeastern half of Missouri. Beyond Missouri its range extends northward into the Great Lakes region, and also into Canada. It is a fairly easy species to ID due to its habitat, short stature, and individual heads with appressed phyllaries and cylindrical involucres. The white flowered form shown above has been called fo. bartelii Steyerm.
Photographs taken in the Current River Conservation Area, Reynolds County, MO., 7-28-01 (DETenaglia); also at Victoria Glade, Jefferson County, MO, 8-27-2010, 8-19-2020, and 10-7-2020, and Glade Top Trail National Scenic Byway, Taney County, MO, 8-15-2023 (SRTurner).