Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Lax Blazing-star - Liatris secunda   Elliott
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Section 6 » Family Asteraceae
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AuthorElliott
DistributionSandhills and southern Coastal Plain. Collections from outside of the Sandhills proper need to be checked for ID; they may be Sandhills (Coker's) Blazing-star (L. cokeri) with secund heads. A collection from "Raleigh" in Wake County appears to be correctly identified, but its provenance is uncertain.

Coastal Plain, NC to northwestern FL and southern AL.
AbundanceRare to uncommon over its 9-county range, but can be quite numerous in a few places in the southern Sandhills Game Land (Scotland County). Absent from the northern half of the Sandhills region (i.e., no records from Moore, Harnett, or Cumberland counties). This is a Watch List species.
HabitatXeric to dry Longleaf Pine-Wiregrass sandhills, pine-oak scrub; interdunes along the coast (Brunswick and New Hanover counties).
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. Lax Blazing-star grows 1-2.5 feet tall, 1-several stems from a single corm, the stems usually leaning and rather hairy. Lower leaves are lance-linear and typically without stalks; middle and upper leaves progressively narrower, shorter, and stalkless. The heads are narrow, have 3-6 white to (rarely) pink-purple florets, and are secund on the stem (occur only on one side). One of the taxon editors (Sorrie) has seen it about 10 times in the Sandhills and it always has white florets; however, plants outside of the Sandhills may have pink-purple ones. Sandhills Blazing-star may also have secund heads, but it has a glabrous to glabrate stem, its florets are smaller and with shorter limbs or blades, and essentially always has pink-purple florets.
Taxonomic CommentsSome authors, such as FNA, treat it as L. pauciflora var. secunda; the two are certainly very close.

Other Common Name(s)Lax Gayfeather, Piedmont Gayfeather
State RankS2
Global RankG4G5
State StatusW7 [W1]
US Status
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