Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Blazing-star blazed out

with 20 comments

Liatris Spike Turned Fluffy 1550

Do you remember what blazing-star, Liatris mucronata, looks like when it’s flowering? In contrast, here’s what a spike of this plant looks like after it has gone to seed, dried out, and turned fluffy. This photograph is from the Riata Trace Pond on January 7.

UPDATE: It seems that botanists have reclassified Liatris mucronata as Liatris punctata var. mucronata.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 26, 2016 at 5:18 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , , ,

20 Responses

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  1. I still haven’t seen blazing star in flower, but once I figured out what I was looking at, I found these stalks in several places this fall. What that means, of course, is that this spring, I’ll get to see Liatris blooming.

    Weird as it is, my first thought when I saw this photo was, “That looks good enough to eat.” I finally figured it out. It reminds me of wild rice: which is, of course, a grass. One species, Zizania texana, is endemic to the San Marcos River. I think I remember that being mentioned here on your blog in the past.

    I do favor blue and brown combinations. This is a lovely one.


    January 26, 2016 at 7:38 AM

    • Ah, not quite, because this is a plant that blooms in the fall (or sometimes late in the summer). I went to see how close to you this species grows and in the process I found that it’s been changed from Liatris mucronata to Liatris punctata var. mucronata. The closest counties to you shown on the USDA map are Colorado and Liberty, but other species of Liatris grow where you are. I remember seeing one at Armand Bayou years ago. You can compare species distributions at:


      Steve Schwartzman

      January 26, 2016 at 8:55 AM

      • So many species! I’ve seen their remnants at Armand Bayou, at Nash Prairie, and near Goliad. I suppose it’s theoretically possible that each of those stands is a different species. I did enjoy seeing Liatris X frostii listed for Minnesota and Missouri. Can’t you just hear it? “Frostii Liatris was a brave and hardy soul, with a slender stem and color blends that no painter ever rolled…”


        January 26, 2016 at 9:15 AM

    • I agree that the blue (which came from the sky reflected in the pond) added a balance to what would otherwise have been heavy on the brown.

      As for the endemic and endangered wild rice, you’re correct that I mentioned it:


      Steve Schwartzman

      January 26, 2016 at 9:02 AM

  2. Love the beautiful, delicate detail you captured…Such a wonderful way to start the day.

    Charlie@Seattle Trekker

    January 26, 2016 at 11:19 AM

    • It’s not a “pretty” picture in the conventional sense, but it reveals, as you say, the delicacy of the late stage of this plant. It’s the stage that with the dropping of seeds ensures the plant’s continuity.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 26, 2016 at 12:23 PM

      • Your photo is like a painting I could live with everyday. Thank you! And Liatris is one of my favorite plants, in all stages.

        Billtye Adams

        January 26, 2016 at 1:46 PM

        • You’re most welcome. I’m happy to find another person who appreciates such a late stage in the life of Liatris.

          Steve Schwartzman

          January 26, 2016 at 2:44 PM

  3. I do…absolutely and, as well, I have liatris dried in our garden. No picture though.

    Steve Gingold

    January 26, 2016 at 6:19 PM

  4. I really love this image, Steve. I don’t usually see blazing stars looking like this. I suppose the stalks get flattened by snow. Or something.


    February 18, 2016 at 8:36 AM

    • I developed a fondness for backlit Liatris in 1999 when I saw a large colony lit that way. The field is still there but it got heavily mowed in some of the following years and the Liatris has never been as good again.

      Snow and ice in your climate must make the remaining Liatris stalks look different from the ones down here (which of course are also a different species). Yet another reason to visit Texas.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 18, 2016 at 10:08 AM

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