Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Smallhead Blazing-star - Liatris microcephala   (Small) K. Schumann
Members of Asteraceae:
Members of Liatris with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Order Asterales » Family Asteraceae
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Author(Small) K. Schumann
DistributionIn NC known only from Macon, Polk, and Rutherford counties in the southern Mountains.

NC to KY, south to GA and AL.
AbundanceExtremely rare, on the verge of extirpation in NC. The NCNHP database lists four records, only one extant (but not checked in a few decades!). It is listed as State Special Concern, but it deserves to be elevated to State Endangered.
HabitatDry to xeric, acidic rock outcrops and montane ridges, "dry bank above Broad River". The habitats for the species are not infrequent at all, and thus some other factor(s) is involved with its rarity.
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting August-October.
IdentificationBlazing-stars typically have single unbranched stems, many slender leaves, and a terminal spike-like inflorescence of disk florets only. They grow from very hard, roundish, underground corms. Smallhead Blazing-star grows 1-2 feet tall, the lower leaves lance-shaped, middle and upper leaves linear and shorter. Heads are narrow, have only 4-6 pink-purple florets, and involucral bracts have blunt to acute tips. In western NC this species may be mistaken for L. helleri; it can be told by fewer florets per head (4-6 versus 7-17).
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)Appalachian Blazing-star, Dwarf Blazing-star
State RankS1
Global RankG3G4
State StatusSC-V
US Status
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