Index of Species Information
SPECIES: Liatris punctata
SPECIES: Liatris punctata
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION :
Walsh, Roberta A. 1993. Liatris punctata. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online].
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service,
Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer).
Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/ .
SCS PLANT CODE :
COMMON NAMES :
dotted button snakeroot
The currently accepted scientific name of blazing star is Liatris
punctata Hook [3,16,20]. It is in the sunflower family (Asteraceae).
Recognized varieties are as follows:
Liatris punctata var. punctata, dotted blazing star
Liatris punctata var. mexicana Gaiser , Mexican blazing star
Liatris punctata var. nebraskana Gaiser [16,33,43], Nebraska blazing star
Blazing star produces natural hybrids with gayfeather (L. mucronata) .
LIFE FORM :
FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS :
No special status
OTHER STATUS :
DISTRIBUTION AND OCCURRENCE
SPECIES: Liatris punctata
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION :
Blazing star occurs from Alberta south to New Mexico and Mexico, east to
Manitoba and Michigan, and south to Arkansas [20,40]. Liatris punctata
var. punctata is generally more western; L. p. var. nebraskana is more
eastern; L. p. var. mexicana is found in Oklahoma and Texas [19,43].
FRES21 Ponderosa pine
FRES34 Chaparral - mountain shrub
FRES35 Pinyon - juniper
FRES36 Mountain grasslands
FRES38 Plains grasslands
AR CO IL IA KS MI MN MO MT NE
NM ND OK SD TX WI WY AB MB SK
BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS :
8 Northern Rocky Mountains
10 Wyoming Basin
11 Southern Rocky Mountains
13 Rocky Mountain Piedmont
14 Great Plains
15 Black Hills Uplift
16 Upper Missouri Basin and Broken Lands
KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS :
K016 Eastern ponderosa forest
K018 Pine - Douglas-fir forest
K023 Juniper - pinyon woodland
K024 Juniper steppe woodland
K037 Mountain-mahogany - oak scrub
K038 Great Basin sagebrush
K055 Sagebrush steppe
K056 Wheatgrass - needlegrass shrubsteppe
K063 Foothills prairie
K064 Grama - needlegrass - wheatgrass
K065 Grama - buffalograss
K066 Wheatgrass - needlegrass
K067 Wheatgrass - bluestem - needlegrass
K068 Wheatgrass - grama - buffalograss
K069 Bluestem - grama prairie
K070 Sandsage - bluestem prairie
K074 Bluestem prairie
K075 Nebraska Sandhills prairie
K081 Oak savanna
K098 Northern floodplain forest
SAF COVER TYPES :
220 Rocky Mountain juniper
237 Interior ponderosa pine
239 Pinyon - juniper
SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES :
HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES :
The following classification lists blazing star as a differential
species (i.e., limited to one habitat type out of several in the area) in
mixed-grass blue grama (Bouteloua gracilis) communities on excessively
drained hilltops and slopes:
Classification of Native Vegetation at the Woodworth Station, North
Associates of blazing star vary with location, since this species has a
wide ecological amplitude and it occurs in a variety of prairie
Associates of blazing star in tallgrass prairie of central Oklahoma are
heath aster (Aster ericoides), Scribner's panic grass (Panicum
scribnerianum), tick-trefoil (Desmodium sessilifolium), and oldfield
goldenrod (Solidago nemoralis) .
Associates of blazing star in south-central South Dakota plains
grasslands include threadleaf sedge (Carex filifolia), tumble grass
(Schedonnardus paniculatus), fringed sagebrush (Artemisia frigida),
leadplant (Amorpha canescens), pale echinacea (Echinacea pallida),
scarlet gaura (Gaura coccinea), and rush skeletonplant (Lygodesmia
Associates of blazing star in the hardlands of northeastern and
east-central Colorado include sixweeks fescue (Festuca octoflora),
bottlebrush squirreltail (Elymus elymoides), slender wirelettuce
(Stephanomeria tenuifolia), wooly loco (Astragalus mollissimus), and
plains pricklypear (Opuntia polyacantha) .
Associates of blazing star on sandy soil in northeastern Colorado
include sand sagebrush (Artemisia filifolia), prairie sandreed
(Calamovilfa longifolia), western ragweed (Ambrosia psilostachya),
purple prairieclover (Petalostemon purpureum), Nuttall evolvulus
(Evolvulus nuttallianus), Texas croton (Croton texensis), shrubby
evening primrose (Calylophus serrulata), and scarlet globemallow
(Sphaeralcea coccinea) 
SPECIES: Liatris punctata
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE :
Domestic livestock, particularly sheep, graze blazing star, especially
when plants are young .
Rocky Mountain elk in Montana also graze blazing star. Blazing star was
given the lowest rating for forage value in winter, and the highest
rating for fall. It is not known to be eaten in spring and summer .
White-tailed deer fed on Liatris species on a reserve in southeastern
Michigan. Liatris species comprised 0.5 to 2 percent of the diet of
pronghorns in New Mexico .
Young blazing star plants are eaten by rodents .
Blazing star is an important nectar source for Lepidoptera. The
population distribution of the endangered skipper butterfly (Hesperus
leonardus montana) near Deckers, Colorado, corresponds almost exactly
with blazing star occurrence .
Goetz  stated that blazing star has little value as a forage species
because of its coarse leaves.
Blazing star palatability for livestock in several western states is as
CO MT ND WY
Cattle poor poor fair fair
Sheep poor fair fair fair
Horses poor poor fair fair.
Rodents prefer buds, seedlings, new leaf growth, and starchy material
from the centers of the tuberous roots. Seeds are eaten, but are not
NUTRITIONAL VALUE :
Blazing star energy value for livestock is fair; protein value is poor .
The food value of blazing star is as follows :
MT ND WY
Elk poor ---- good
Mule deer poor fair fair
White-tailed deer ---- poor fair
Pronghorn poor poor fair
Upland game birds ---- ---- poor
Waterfowl ---- ---- poor
Small nongame birds ---- ---- poor
Small mammals ---- ---- fair.
Toxic alkaloids occur in blazing star, but their low concentrations are
unlikely to cause acute toxicity, particularly because most hay contains
relatively little blazing star .
COVER VALUE :
The cover value of blazing star is as follows :
Elk ---- poor
Mule deer poor poor
White-tailed deer poor poor
Pronghorn poor ----
Upland game birds poor ----
Waterfowl poor ----
Small nongame birds poor ----
Small mammals poor ----.
VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES :
Blazing star seeds were collected in the Badlands of western North
Dakota, and in 1977 and 1978 were grown on raw coal spoil material to
evaluate their use in minespoil reclamation. Blazing star had
exceptionally good seedling emergence and subsequent vigorous growth
from direct seeding. Greenhouse plants transplanted well. They
produced more vigorous first-year plants, which had a greater chance of
survival than those from direct seeding [5,6].
Blazing star is being developed and released for prairie rehabilitation
. Shatter takes place shortly after seeds ripen and proceeds fairly
rapidly. Seeds should be therefore be collected soon after ripening.
They are planted in the fall immediately after harvest or the following
spring when soils are warm (68 degrees Fahrenheit [20 deg C]) .
Plants show good vigor .
On a severely eroded, steep, sandy, south-facing slope in Saskatoon,
Saskatchewan, prairie hay mulch held down by jute mesh was very
successful in promoting germination and establishment of prairie plants
including blazing star .
OTHER USES AND VALUES :
Blazing star is a common floral decoration .
Blazing star contains sesquiterpene lactones and alkaloids which have
been extracted for use in biological tests . Some components have
cytotoxic effects .
The carrot-flavored root of blazing star was used by American Indians
for food . The plants of this genus were consumed in New England as
a treatment for gonorrhea .
OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS :
Rangeland: Blazing star is drought resistant and well adapted to a
variety of upland prairies . Its tolerance of drought is due to its
deep roots. It can develop normally and produce seed when there is no
moisture in the upper layers of soil . During periods of extended
drought, blazing star decreases in abundance and height . During
the drought of 1931-1937 blazing star completely disappeared from many
sites in eastern Colorado .
Blazing star is preferred by grazing animals. It classified as a
decreaser, soon disappearing under continuous overgrazing [24,46].
Herbicides: Blazing star was seeded with other native forbs and grasses
at two lowland sites in eastern Nebraska in May, 1975. Herbicides in
varying amounts were applied at the time of seeding to provide an
assessment of their use in establishing a diverse stand of prairie
grasses and forbs. Blazing star did not appear in any treatment plots
in which herbicides were used .
Other: In Colorado, blazing star is a major host for the parasitic
plant wholeleaf Indian paintbrush (Castilleja integra) .
BOTANICAL AND ECOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS
SPECIES: Liatris punctata
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS :
Blazing star is a native, warm-season, perennial forb . It has one
to several stems 4 to 32 inches (0.1-0.8 m) tall . The
inflorescence is a dense spike up to 12 inches (30 cm) long . The
fruit is an achene. The pappus is persistent . The stems arise from
an erect or weakly spreading thick, short rootstock elongated into a
thickened taproot . The taproot is 4.25 to 16.4 feet (1.3-5 m)
deep, with laterals at various levels . Blazing star develops
Blazing star develops slowly and is very long lived. Ring counts in
root crowns showed plant ages greater than 35 years .
RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM :
REGENERATION PROCESSES :
Blazing star reproduces vegetatively by sprouting from rhizomes and
sexually by wind-disseminated seeds  which have a very long plumose
pappus . The seeds have two periods of maximum germination: in the
spring after fall maturation, and during the following fall .
Blazing star germinates under a wide range of conditions, but optimal
conditions for germination may vary geographically. Germination
response from seed in three areas follows.
Blazing star seed fill was about 40 percent in southeastern Montana in
1976 and 1977. Germination was optimal for new seed at 68 to 86 degrees
Fahrenheit (20-30 deg C). For seed 10 months old germination was best
at 68/41 degrees Fahrenheit (20/5 deg C) alternating temperatures.
Stratification of less than 1 month duration was insufficient.
Germination during stratification was quite high, and higher with new
seed than old. Low temperature (39 degrees Fahrenheit [4 deg C])
storage had no effect on germination. Light appeared to promote
germination at lower (50 degree Fahrenheit [10 deg C]) temperatures
Blazing star seed collected in south-central South Dakota was tested for
germination. Of the seeds collected, 26.5 percent had mature embryos,
and these were maintained in darkness at a constant 70 degrees
Fahrenheit (21 deg C) for 30 days. Forty-seven percent of the seeds
germinated within 8 to 22 days, requiring neither moist-cold nor
scarification treatments .
Blazing star seeds from western North Dakota were stored under three
different conditions, with storage beginning December 1, 1977. There
was no significant difference in germination rate due to storage
conditions of dry cold, wet cold, or room temperature. Seeds were
tested for germination rate each month from January through May, 1978.
Blazing star seeds had the highest germination rate in April, averaging
about 71 percent over all storage conditions [5,6].
SITE CHARACTERISTICS :
Blazing star inhabits dry, open, upland sites, especially in sandy soil
. It is found on dry prairie , dry plains, and hills .
Blazing star is also found on calcareous soils on the Edwards Plateau
and in the Guadalupe Mountains of Texas .
Blazing star growth is poor on dense clay, poor to fair on clay, fair to
good on gravel, sand, and clay loam, and good on sandy loam and loam.
Growth is poor on acidic and saline soils. Optimum soil depth is 20
inches (50 cm) or more. Blazing star makes good growth on gentle and
moderate slopes and fair growth on steep slopes .
Blazing star occurs at the following elevations:
Elevation (feet) Elevation (m)
CO 3,500-8,000 1,067-2,438 
MT 2,800-6,400 853-1,951 
SD 3,600-5,000 1,097-1,524 
WY 3,700-7,400 1,128-2,255 .
SUCCESSIONAL STATUS :
Blazing star is a member of the mature prairie community  and does
not tolerate deep litter or shading . It often increases after
Blazing star was found to be a major forb species in scattered ponderosa
pine (Pinus ponderosa) in mixed-prairie in northwestern Nebraska. It
was reduced in importance where the trees were more closely spaced, and
was not present where trees were dense 
Blazing star occurs in western wheatgrass (Pascopyrum smithii)-blue
grama communities in south-central South Dakota on silt loam soils
disturbed by grazing and drought .
Blazing star occurred on some badger-disturbed sites in tallgrass
prairie of northwestern Iowa. Seedlings were present in the spring of
the first growing season following disturbance. During the second
growing season blazing star began to reproduce vegetatively. On
reaching maturity, 94.1 percent of blazing star plants on disturbed
sites flowered .
SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT :
Blazing star seeds generally germinate in the spring, and to a lesser
extent in the fall. The seedling grows only a few inches the first year
and remains in the rosette stage [6,7]. During this time it develops a
taproot up to 35 inches (89 cm) deep and accumulates some reserve food.
In later years it develops extensive taproots . After the first
year blazing star begins growth in spring and attains its mature height
in late summer .
Blazing star flowering times are:
Begin Peak End
Flowering Flowering Flowering
CO August August September 
IL August ---- October 
KS August September October 
MT July August September 
ND July August September 
WY July August September 
Great Plains July ---- October .
In central North Dakota blazing star populations bloom an average of
38 days each year . In western North Dakota blazing star attains its
mature height by mid-August .
SPECIES: Liatris punctata
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS :
Blazing star has good fire tolerance due to reproduction by rhizomes .
It produces numerous, small, wind-dispersed seeds  which can establish
on burned sites. Blazing star thrives in the open, sunny conditions
created by fire . No information was available on seed tolerance to
heat, or length of seed viability in the seedbank.
POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY :
Rhizomatous herb, rhizome in soil
Initial-offsite colonizer (off-site, initial community)
Secondary colonizer - off-site seed
SPECIES: Liatris punctata
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT :
Blazing star is probably top-killed by fire.
Because of their persistent rhizomes, Liatris species are not usually
killed by fast fire. Fire promotes seedling establishment by removing
deep litter. Seedlings emerge earlier because of greater light and heat
at the soil surface .
DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT :
PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE :
Blazing star is listed as tolerant of fire in the tallgrass prairie of
the Central Great Plains, where it often increases following fire .
Blazing star was subjected to prescribed fire in northwestern Minnesota
in the spring of 1972. Flowering was stimulated on a dry-mesic
south-facing slope in undisturbed prairie. Flowering decreased on a
wet-mesic level site in severely disturbed prairie. The primary factor
responsible for increased flowering appeared to be removal of litter,
which allowed for higher temperatures and increased light intensities
near the soil surface. This resulted in increased vegetative growth in
spring and increased flowering in summer. Litter removal by fire varied
with site .
A lightning fire with 48-mile per hour (77-km/hr) winds burned in the
Nebraska National Forest in the Sand Hills in May, 1965. By fall, 1965,
blazing star had increased in dry valley sites and choppy sand sites.
Its presence on rolling sandy sites was unchanged .
Fire was prescribed at the Sun River Wildlife Management Area in
west-central Montana on October 17, 1983, and April 15, 1984. Blazing
star had greater biomass after spring fires than fall fires. It may not
have been dormant during the fall fires, and therefore was susceptible
to damage. There was no difference in blazing star response between
backfires and headfires within a season .
An area in the Badlands of western North Dakota burned on August 14,
1954. Blazing star frequency in August, 1958, was the same on both
burned and unburned areas . Other sites burned in a severe wildfire
on May 29, 1958. Blazing star was present in August, 1958, at 25
percent frequency on unburned areas, but had decreased to 17 percent
frequency on burned areas .
DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE :
FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS :
Postfire soil moisture is a major factor in determining the effect of
fire on blazing star. Drought is common in the mixed-grass prairie and
can seriously set back recovery after a fire. In mesic areas, or in dry
areas where fires are followed by a moist summer, fire can be beneficial
SPECIES: Liatris punctata
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