Saturday, August 29, 2009

Appalachian blazing star - Liatris squarrulosa

Appalachian or southern blazing star (Liatris squarrulosa) is quite rare in Florida - occurring in only Gadsden and Okaloosa Counties in the panhandle. It is rather common, however, to much of the Southeast and Midwest in well-drained soils and open, sunny habitats. Throughout its range it is a rather variable species.

This is another fall-blooming blazing star and in our gardens at Hawthorn Hill it begins in late Auguest and continues into September. The buds are large and contain a great many light lavender flowers. They are enclosed in scaly bracts.

Appalachian blazing star is also rather tall. By blooming season, the wand-like flower stalk is 3-4 feet tall. The coarse and twisted leaves go all the way to the top of the stalk and partially hide the developing buds.

Like others in this genus, it is deciduous. The basal leaves develop in early spring, but it begins to elongate shortly thereafter. The leaves and stems are not "hairy", but they are a bit "scurfy".

We are currently experimenting with this species at Hawthorn Hill and trying to learn more about what it needs to prosper here in Florida landscapes. This is a species that has never been offered before in Florida and we would like to change that someday. We are expecting a good seed crop this year and seedlings in 2010. If you are interested in this beautiful blazing star, check back with us next spring to see how we did.

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