Flora of the Southeastern United States
2022 Edition

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Key to Liatris

1 Pappus plumose, the barbels along each pappus bristle mostly 0.5-1.0 mm long or longer.
..2 Inner phyllaries with apices prolonged, slightly dilated, and petaloid (white to yellow, pink, or purplish); heads 3-5 mm in diameter, with 4-6 flowers per head.
....3 Heads pedunculate; [east of the Mississippi River in e. LA, s. MS, AL, FL, GA, and SC].
......4 Phyllary apices lavender to pink or magenta
......4 Phyllary apices white to cream or light yellow
....3 Heads sessile (plants that are top-injured or knocked over and prostrate may develop pedunculate heads); [west of the Mississippi River in AR, OK, LA, and TX].
........5 Phyllary apices loosely erect, few if any diverging > 30 degrees from the axis of the head; colored portions of the phyllaries lavender to pink or magenta (rarely mainly green with whitish margins); [widespread in w. and s. AR, e. and se. OK, w. LA, and e. TX]
........5 Phyllary apices spreading to recurving, many or most spreading at more than 30 degrees from the axis of the head; colored portions of the phyllaries either white to cream or light yellow or lavender to pink or magenta; [e., se., and s. TX].
..........6 Corms depressed-globose, flat or rounded at the base; phyllary apices white to cream or light yellow (rarely lavender to pink or magenta); [e. TX, from c. Bastrop County and Travis County northeastwards]
..........6 Corms elongate and tapering downwards (turnip-like); phyllary apices lavender to pink or magenta; [s. and se. TX, from s. Bastrop County, Fayette County, and Calhoun County southwestwards].
..2 Inner phyllaries not prominently petaloid; heads 10-20 mm in diameter, with 10-60 flowers per head.
............ 7 Heads in corymbiform or broadly racemiform arrays, at least some of the heads on peduncles 20-70 mm long.
............ ..8 Involucres 8-11 mm in diameter; inflorescences corymbiform; leaves 2-5 mm wide; [e. TX]
............ ..8 involucres 15-20 mm in diameter; inflorescences broadly racemiform (at least when well-developed, with > 5 heads); leaves 1-2 (-2.5) mm wide; [c. peninsular FL]
............ 7 Heads in narrowly racemiform or spiciform arrays (or borne singly), the heads sessile or on short peduncles 1-10 (rarely to 25) mm long.
............ ....9 Leaves with 3-5 nerves; florets 10-60 per head; corolla lobes densely hairy.
............ ......10 Outer phyllaries as long as or (more usually longer than) the inner phyllaries, spreading or reflexed, the spreading portion typically > 2 mm long.
............ ........11 Heads usually single, each subtended by foliaceous bracts longer than the head; ; stems glabrous; [Ouachita Mountains of AR and e. OK]
............ ........11 Heads in racemiform arrays; stems glabrous or hairy; [collectively widespread].
............ ..........12 Stems glabrous; leaves glabrous; phyllaries glabrous and eciliate
............ ..........12 Stems hairy; leaves sparsely pilose to glabrescent; phyllaries glabrous or pubescent on the faces, ciliate-margined
............ ......10 Outer phyllaries shorter than the inner phyllaries, erect-appressed to spreading or reflexed, the spreading portion 0-2 mm long.
............ ............ 13 Stems and leaves usually glabrous; inner phyllaries usually apically rounded to truncate, apiculate, all essentially erect and appressed, usually with a narrow hyaline border
............ ............ 13 Stems and leaves hirsute to hirsute-pilose; inner phyllaries apically acute-acuminate, all usually spreading to reflexed on the distal 1/3 (outer) to 1/5 (inner), usually without a hyaline border
............ ....9 Leaves with 1 nerve (or sometimes with 3-5 nerves in L. acidota); florets either (2- 3-6 (-8) or 8-14 (-16) per head.
............ ............ ..14 Heads borne in loose spiciform arrays, the heads spaced widely and the stem therefore not obscured; florets 8-14 (-16) per head; [se. TX]
............ ............ ..14 Heads borne in dense spiciform arrays, the heads overlapping and the stem therefore generally obscured; florets (2-) 3-6 (-8) per head.
............ ............ ....15 Corms elongate and becoming rhizomatous
............ ............ ....15 Corms globose, depressed-globose, or ovate.
............ ............ ......16 Leaves with 3 (-5) nerves; basal leaves fibrous-persistent; cauline leaves abruptly reduced in size; [prairies, Coastal Plain of w. LA and e. TX].
............ ............ ......16 Leaves with 1 nerve; basal leaves withering completely; cauline leaves nut reduced or only gradually so; [collectively more widespread from MO and KS south to w. LA and e. and c. TX].
............ ............ ........17 Stems stipitate-glandular; [TX]
............ ............ ........17 Stems glabrous.
............ ............ ..........18 Phyllaries 6-11, in 2-3 series, oblong-lanceolate to lanceolate-triangular, subequal (the inner 11-12 mm long), the apices acute to acute-attenuate (sometimes with narrow tips), lateral veins usually evident beyond middle, continuing nearly to tips); flowering mid Jul–Aug (-Sep)
............ ............ ..........18 Phyllaries 11–18 in (4-) 5-6 series, mostly oblong-obovate, unequal (the inner 7-9 mm long), apices obtuse to truncate-rounded (each tipped by thick, often indurate apicula or mucros), lateral veins usually not evident beyond middle or 2/3s point; flowering mostly mid-late Aug (-Oct)
1 Pappus barbellate, the barbels along each pappus bristle 0.1-0.3 (-0.4) mm long.
............ ............ ............ 19 Heads mostly 1-30 in subcorymbiform or corymbiform arrays; [of either c. peninsular FL or Bibb Co., AL]
............ ............ ............ ..20 Phyllaries in 6-7 series, the apices rounded or obtuse; [Florida scrub, c. peninsular FL]
............ ............ ............ ..20 Phyllaries in 3-4 (-5) series, the apices acuminate; [dolomite glades, Bibb County, AL]
............ ............ ............ 19 Heads usually > 10 in a spiciform or racemiform arrangement; [collectively widespread].
............ ............ ............ ....21 Leaves 3-5-veined.
............ ............ ............ ......22 Stems glabrous or sparsely sessile-glandular; leaf bases not fibrous-persistent; corolla tubes pilose inside; [c. peninsular FL, west side of the peninsula]
............ ............ ............ ......22 Stems glabrous or puberulent (not glandular); leaf bases fibrous-persistent; corolla tubes glabrous inside; [collectively widespread].
............ ............ ............ ........23 Phyllary apices obtuse to rounded.
............ ............ ............ ..........24 Basal and lower cauline leaves (2-) 4-8 mm wide, cauline usually abruptly reduced in size at ca. midstem, continuing distally as linear, bract-like leaves; heads in a densely (- to loosely) spiciform arrangement; involucres 7-9 mm, purplish to greenish; florets 5-6 (-8) per head; [mainly of the Coastal Plain]
............ ............ ............ ..........24 Basal and lower cauline leaves 4-10 (-20) mm wide, cauline usually gradually reduced in size distally; heads in a densely to loosely spiciform arrangement; involucres (7-) 8-11 mm, usually greenish; florets (4-) 6-8 (-12) per head; [of the Mountains and Piedmont]
............ ............ ............ ........23 Phyllary apices acuminate or acute.
............ ............ ............ ............ 25 Phyllary apices erect and appressed; florets (2-) 3-4 (-5) per head
............ ............ ............ ............ 25 Phyllary apices reflexed to spreading, somewhat dilated and often slightly petaloid; florets (4-) 5-8 per head
............ ............ ............ ............ ..26 Stems moderately to densely puberulent; leaves moderately to densely puberulent (rarely glabrescent); corms globose to elongate
............ ............ ............ ............ ..26 Stems glabrous or sparsely puberulent only near the inflorescence; leaves glabrous; corms globose
............ ............ ............ ....21 Leaves 1 (-3) veined.
............ ............ ............ ............ ....27 Mid and inner phyllaries with a point of some kind: either apically acuminate or acute or (if rounded-retuse) minutely involute-cuspidate to apiculate.
............ ............ ............ ............ ......28 Phyllaries narrowly triangular, the margins without hyaline borders; phyllary tips divergent from the involucre, usually acuminate to acute; florets 10–12 per head; [w. LA and e. TX]
............ ............ ............ ............ ......28 Phyllaries variously oblong, lanceolate, or ovate, the margins usually apparently hyaline; phyllary tips erect or appressed to the involucre, acuminate, acute, cuspidate, or apiculate; florets 3-10 (-12); [east of Mississippi River].
............ ............ ............ ............ ........29 Stems hirtellous with spreading to slightly deflexed hairs or variously puberulent to hirsute.
............ ............ ............ ............ ..........30 Involucres 4-6 (-7) mm high; stems hirsute to puberulent to pilose-puberulent or strigose-puberulent
............ ............ ............ ............ ..........30 Involucres 8-15 mm high; stems hirtellous with spreading to slightly deflexed hairs.
............ ............ ............ ............ ............ 31 Corms elongated into rhizomes
............ ............ ............ ............ ............ 31 Corms globose or depressed-globose, or sometimes somewhat elongated.
............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ..32 Heads sessile, relatively crowded in a cylindric arrangement.
............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ....33 Heads rigidly ascending, appressed to the rachis and to each other, densely overlapping; phyllary margins usually not ciliolate; phyllary tips erect; [FL peninsula, Panhandle, and sw. GA and s. AL]
............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ....33 Heads spreading to ascending, not strongly overlapping; phyllary margins ciliolate; phyllary tips slightly spreading; [FL Panhandle (Franklin and Wakulla counties]
............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ..32 Heads sessile to short-pedunculate, in a relatively loose, spiciform, racemose, or paniculate, commonly secund arrangement.
............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ......34 Stems glabrous (rarely sparsely hirtellous); leaves and phyllaries sparsely or not at all gland-dotted; involucres 11-15 mm high; inner phyllaries with acute apices
............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ......34 Stems minutely puberulent-hirtellous; leaves and phyllaries gland-dotted; involucres 7-10 (-14) mm high; inner phyllaries with abruptly acuminate apices, often apiculate or mucronulate
............ ............ ............ ............ ........29 Stems glabrous or sometimes sparsely pilose.
............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ........35 Phyllaries apically usually rounded-retuse and minutely involute-cuspidate to apiculate; corolla tubes glabrous within.
............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ..........36 Stems and basal leaves glabrous; basal leaves mostly arising from congested nodes at very base of plant, (1-) 2-6 (-9) mm wide, abruptly reduced in size distally, surfaces minutely white-dotted by stomates, not glandular-punctate
............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ............ 37 Leaves in a diffuse, few-leaved basal rosette, 2–3 mm wide and 20–30 cm long, mostly somewhat ascending; culms (60–)75–100(–150) cm tall, 2–3 mm wide, the inflorescence averaging 25% of the culm height; flowering mostly from October to November, during the dry season in peninsular Florida
............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ............ 37 Leaves in a well-defined, densely leafy basal rosette, (4–)5–7(–10) mm wide and 15–20 cm long, mostly lax and spreading, not ascending; culms (40–)50–80(–120) cm tall, 4–6 mm wide, the inflorescence averaging half the culm height; flowering mostly from July to September, during the wet season in peninsular Florida
............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ..........36 Stems and basal leaves glabrous to very sparsely pilose, leaves usually with a few spreading cilia near insertion; basal and lower cauline leaves arising from numerous, separated nodes on proximal part of stem, 1-2 (-2.5) mm wide and relatively even-sized, surfaces glandular-punctate
............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ........35 Phyllaries apically acute; corolla tubes pilose within.
............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ..38 Heads often in a secund arrangement; involucres 7-15 mm; phyllaries obovate; florets 3-6.
............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ..38 Heads in a secund arrangement or not; involucres (6-) 7-9 mm; phyllaries ovate-triangular to generally oblong; florets 4-10 (-12).
............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ....39 Heads densely arranged, on internodes 1-2 (-5) mm long, often secund; phyllary apex sharply acuminate-acute, distinctly involute, lamina relatively thin, glands consistently present and superficial at least on proximal portion; florets 4-7 (-9); basal and lower cauline leaves 2-5 mm wide, gradually reduced in length distally
............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ....39 Heads loosely arranged, on internodes 6-15 (-20) mm long, not secund; phyllary apex sharply acute to obtuse-angled with a thickened apiculum, not markedly involute, lamina relatively thick, usually with evidently sunken punctate glands, without superficial glands; florets 7-10 (-12); basal and lower cauline leaves 4-9 (-12) mm wide, quickly reduced in width and length distally
............ ............ ............ ............ ....27 Mid and inner phyllaries lacking a point: apically rounded, obtuse, or truncate.
............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ......40 Stems glabrous (rarely sparsely to moderately pilose in L. pilosa).
............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ........41 Involucres 5-7 (-9) mm; florets 4-5 (-6); corolla tubes glabrous within; pappus bristles usually about half the length of corolla tubes
............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ........41 Involucres 6-10 mm; florets (6-) 7-13 (-17); corolla tubes internally pilose; pappus bristles as long as the corolla tubes (shorter in some populations of L. helleri).
............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ..........42 Stems 15-55 cm; leaves and phyllaries weakly or not at all punctate; pappus bristles 1/3-2/3 to equal the corolla tube length; [of the Mountains and upper Piedmont]
............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ............ 43 Pappus either 0.5 as long as the corolla tube or longer; plants usually < 4 dm tall; [restricted to high elevation areas near Grandfather Mountain NC (and Roan Mountain?)]
............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ............ 43 Pappus about as long as the corolla tube; plants usually > 4 dm tall; [in high elevation areas in w. NC, as well as in mid to lower elevation sites from nw. NC northwards through w. VA and e. WV]
............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ..........42 Stems 40-120 cm; leaves and phyllaries distinctly punctate-glandular to weakly punctate; pappus bristles equal the corolla tube length; [of the Coastal Plain and Piedmont].
............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ..44 Stems glabrous; heads loosely arranged, on internodes (2-) 5-10 (-14) mm; peduncles 0-2 (-7) mm; involucres 6-8 mm; phyllaries in 3-4 (-5) series
............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ..44 Stems glabrous to sparsely or moderately pilose; heads densely arranged, on internodes (1-) 2-5 (-7) mm; peduncles 0-10 (-17, -80 in proximal part of capitulescence) mm; involucres (7-) 8-10 mm, phyllaries in (3-) 4-5 (-6) series
............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ......40 Stems puberulent to strigose.
............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ....45 Involucres 2.5-7 mm wide; florets 3-12.
............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ......46 Stems and peduncles puberulent to pilose-puberulent or strigose-puberulent; heads usually on ascending peduncles 2-10 (-12) mm; involucres 2.5-4 (-5) mm wide; phyllaries apically rounded or obtuse to acute or acuminate; florets 3-6 (-9).
............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ........47 Lower stem leaves with slender petioles and blades elliptic to lance-elliptic, the blades (8-) 11-22 (-27) mm wide (bracts subtending proximal heads 2+ mm wide, grading gradually from distal cauline leaves); phyllary apices usually acuminate to acute, rarely obtuse
............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ........47 Lower stem leaves usually lanceolate, linear, linear-oblanceolate, or oblanceolate, sometimes narrowly spatulate, 2-8 (-10) mm wide (bracts subtending proximal heads to 2 mm wide, abruptly differentiated from distal cauline leaves); phyllary apices usually rounded or obtuse-truncate, rarely acute
............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ......46 Stems and peduncles stiffly short-strigose with closely ascending hairs; heads on divergent, arcuate-ascending peduncles 10-25 (-30) mm; involucres 5-7 mm wide; phyllaries apically rounded to nearly flat; florets 7-12
............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ....45 Involucres 13-22 (-25) mm wide or (6-) 8-15 mm wide (L. squarrulosa); florets 11-80.
............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ..........48 Heads usually on peduncles usually 8-50 mm (rarely subsessile); phyllaries erect, not reflexing; florets ca. 30-80 (19-33 in L. scariosa); corolla tubes glabrous or pilose within.
............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ............ 49 Phyllaries with hyaline borders that are erose to lacerate; corolla tubes glabrous inside; [perhaps not reaching our area, reported from IL and MO]
............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ............ 49 Phyllaries with margins not or very narrowly hyaline, entire or nearly so; corolla tubes glabrous or pilose inside; [collectively widespread in our area].
............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ..50 Leaves or leafy bracts 8-20 (-25) below the heads, cauline usually abruptly reduced above the basal; florets 19-33 per head; [of the Central and Southern Appalachians]
............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ..50 Leaves or leafy bracts 20-85 below the heads, usually continuing relatively even-sized upward above the basal; florets ca. 30-80 per head; [of WV and PA northward]
............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ....51 Lower cauline leaves mostly 25-50 (-55) mm wide; leaves glandular-dotted and also puberulent
............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ....51 Lower cauline leaves mostly 7-20 (-26) mm wide; leaves glabrous or puberulent, lacking or with few glands; [PA northwards]
............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ..........48 Heads usually sessile, less commonly subsessile on peduncles 1-8 mm (rarely more); at least outer phyllaries usually reflexing; florets 11-26 (-30) per head; corolla tubes pilose within.
............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ......52 Phyllaries glabrous, bullate, with broad, conspicuous, often erose to lacerate or irregular, hyaline border
............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ......52 Phyllaries glabrous to puberulent or puberulent-hirtellous, essentially flat (not bullate), without hyaline border or border narrow and inconspicuous