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FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 21 | Asteraceae | Liatris

10. Liatris elegans (Walter) Michaux, Fl. Bor.-Amer. 2: 91. 1803.

Pinkscale or elegant gayfeather

Staehelina elegans Walter, Fl. Carol., 202. 1788

Plants 30–120 cm. Corms depressed-globose or globose to napiform. Stems puberulent to hirsute-puberulent. Leaves: (basal on relatively distant internodes usually withering before flowering) proximal cauline 1-nerved, narrowly oblanceolate, 60–200(–300) × 3–8 mm, gradually or abruptly reduced distally (becoming slightly to strongly deflexed), essentially glabrous or sparsely puberulent, gland-dotted. Heads in dense, spiciform arrays. Peduncles usually 0, sometimes 1–5(–10) mm. Involucres turbinate-cylindric, 12–20 × 4–6 mm. Phyllaries in 3–4 series, narrowly lanceolate-triangular, unequal, strigose to strigoso-hispid, margins with hyaline borders, apices (at least inner) prolonged, spreading, ± dilated, petaloid (pink, purplish, white, or yellow). Florets 4–5; corolla tubes glabrous inside. Cypselae 3.5–5(–6) mm; pappi: lengths ± equaling corollas, bristles plumose.

Varieties 4 (4 in the flora): s United States.

Variety elegans extends across the geographic range of the species; the other three varieties form local enclaves essentially imbedded within var. elegans and sporadically intergrading with it at points of contact (see further comments under 10d. var. kralii).

1 Phyllary apices petaloid, blue, lavender, magenta, or pink, ± elongate and recurving, petaloid portions short relative to herbaceous bases   (2)
+ Phyllary apices petaloid, usually yellowish to creamy white, rarely pale lavender to rose, recurving to slightly flaring or nearly straight, petaloid portions elongate or relatively short relative to bases   (3)
2 (1) Corms depressed-globose   10a Liatris elegans var. elegans
+ Corms elongate, tapering   10b Liatris elegans var. carizzana
3 (1) Heads usually crowded (peduncles 0); phyllary apices creamy white (rarely pale lavender), sometimes initially lemon yellow fading to creamy white, elongate and recurving, petaloid portions short relative to herbaceous bases   10c Liatris elegans var. bridgesii
+ Heads well spaced; phyllary apices light yellow or cream (rarely pale lavender), flaring-divergent slightly or not at all, petaloid portions elongate relative to herbaceous bases   10d Liatris elegans var. kralii


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