Liatris ohlingerae

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Liatris ohlingerae
Liatris ohlingerae Kaitlin Griffith 3.JPG
Photo taken by Kaitlin Griffith at Archbold Biological Station
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Order: Asterales
Family: Asteraceae ⁄ Compositae
Genus: Liatris
Species: L. ohlingerae
Binomial name
Liatris ohlingerae
(S.F. Blake) B.L. Rob.
Liat ohli dist.jpg
Natural range of Liatris ohlingerae from USDA NRCS Plants Database.

Common names: Florida blazing star; Florida gayfeather; Scrub blazing star

Taxonomic notes

Synonym: Ammopursus ohlingerae (S.F. Blake) Small USDA NRCS Plants Database


A description of Liatris ohlingerae is provided in The Flora of North America.

L. ohlingerae is an endemic perennial with narrow, linear leaves that help conserve water in the xeric sands of the Lake Wales Ridge. The flowers are clustered at the tip of the flowering stalk, with broad flowering heads and narrow leaves that help distinguish this species from the other 8 Liatris species found in Florida.[1] After seed dispersal, the flowering stems senesce and die and the plant will resprout from a bulb in the spring. Unlike other composites, L. ohlingerae lacks ray flowers and only has perfect, tubular disc flowers. The fruit is a composite achene with a pappus of fine hairs.[2]


It is endemic to the xeric sands of the Lake Wales Ridge in Highlands and Polk counties.[2]



L. ohlingerae can be found in the xeric sands of scrubby flatwoods, and both rosemary and oak scrubs along the southern portion of the Lake Wales Ridge.[2] Associated species include Ceratiola, Quercus geminata, and Quercus myrtifolia.[3]

Unlike many other Florida scrub endemics, L. ohlingerae is not a gap specialist, but rather has a broader microhabitat tolerance. It has been observed to colonize anthropogenic sites within its natural habitat, such as firelanes and roadsides.[4]


Has been observed flowering in June at Archbold Biological Station by Kaitlin Griffith. Flowers August through October.[3][5]

This species exhibits occasional dormancy, with live plants not always appearing above ground every year. This makes it difficult to get a proper census of the amount of individuals in a location.[2]

It is self-incompatible.[2] Dolan et al. (1999) found this species to have a high level of gene flow, along with evidence of inbreeding.

Seed bank and germination

It has a broader microhabitat tolerance and is not a gap specialist.[2] Germination has been observed to not be effected by the proximity of Ceratiola ericoides which leaches allelopathic chemicals that hinder germination of many other scrub endemics.[6] A study by Weekley et al. (2008) found that germination was highest under rosemary litter than under pine or oak litter, regardless of litter depth. This study also suggests that this species lacks a persistent seed bank because of high germination percentages within a few weeks of establishment.

Lindon and Menges (2008) found an increase in germination rate within 1 minute of smoke exposure and a reduced germination rate with 30 minutes of smoke exposure.

Fire ecology

It is found in areas with very different fire return intervals: scrubby flatwoods interval less than 10 years and rosemary scrubs interval longer than 20 years.[2]

It resprouts after fire, but it is difficult to predict which plants are killed by fire because of below ground dormancy which causes fluctuations in aboveground population sizes (Weekley and Menges 2003).


There is a higher degree of within population genetic variation than many other scrub endemics due to this species being self-incompatible and pollinated by butterflies.[7][8] Sweat bees from the family Halictidae such as Lasioglossum nymphalis was observed visiting flowers of Liatris ohlingerae at the Archbold Biological Station.[9]

Herbivory and toxicology

L. ohlingerae occurs less in degraded scrubs than intact scrubs due to increased seed removal from predators, who may benefit from the decreased shrub cover and increased visibility. The seeds, which are large, are removed less frequently compared to other scrub endemic species with smaller seeds.[10] White tailed deer eat the flowering stems and remove the reproductive structures of the plant. Individuals have been observed to be shorter, less likely to flower, and have fewer inflorescence in areas where deer are present.[11]

Conservation, cultivation, and restoration

Much of the Lake Wales Ridge has been converted to agriculture and urban development. In order to manage the remaining regions, it is suggested to burn oak scrub every 15 to 20 years and rosemary scrubs every 40 to 60 years.[12]

Cultural use

Photo Gallery

References and notes

Lindon, Heather Lynn, and Eric Menges. “Scientific Note: Effects of Smoke on Seed Germination of Twenty Species of Fire-prone Habitats in Florida”. Castanea 73.2 (2008): 106–110

  1. [[1]] Center for Plant Conservation. Accessed: January 19, 2016
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 [[2]] Archbold Biological Station. Accessed: January 19, 2016
  3. 3.0 3.1 Florida State University Robert K. Godfrey Herbarium database. URL: Last accessed: October 2015. Collectors: W.P. Adams, Loran C. Anderson, Beverly Judd, Walter S. Judd, R. Kral, O. Lakela, S. Nichole Ohlinger, John K. Small, D.B. Ward, E. West. States and Counties: Florida: Highlands, Polk. Compiled by Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.
  4. Weekley, C. W., J. Tucker, et al. (2008). "Germination Ecology of Liatris ohlingerae (S.F. Blake) B.L. Rob. (Asteraceae), an Endangered Herb Endemic to Florida Scrub." Castanea 73(4): 235-250.
  5. Nelson, G. PanFlora: Plant data for the eastern United States with emphasis on the Southeastern Coastal Plains, Florida, and the Florida Panhandle. Accessed: 19 MAY 2021
  6. Molly E. Hunter, and Eric S. Menges. “Allelopathic Effects and Root Distribution of Ceratiola Ericoides (empetraceae) on Seven Rosemary Scrub Species”. American Journal of Botany 89.7 (2002): 1113–1118.
  7. Dolan, R. W., R. Yahr, et al. (1999). "Conservation Implications of Genetic Variation in Three Rare Species Endemic to Florida Rosemary Scrub." American Journal of Botany 86(11): 1556-1562.
  8. Menges, E. S., R. W. Dolan, et al. (2001). "Comparative Genetics of Seven Plants Endemic to Florida's Lake Wales Ridge." Castanea 66(1/2): 98-114
  9. Deyrup, M.A. and N.D. 2015. Database of observations of Hymenoptera visitations to flowers of plants on Archbold Biological Station, Florida, USA.
  10. Stephens, E. L., L. U. Z. Castro-Morales, et al. (2012). "Post-Dispersal Seed Predation, Germination, and Seedling Survival of Five Rare Florida Scrub Species in Intact and Degraded Habitats." The American Midland Naturalist 167(2): 223-239.
  11. Kettenring, K. M., C. W. Weekley, et al. (2009). "Herbivory Delays Flowering and Reduces Fecundity of Liatris ohlingerae (Asteraceae), an Endangered, Endemic Plant of the Florida Scrub." The Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society 136(3): 350-362.
  12. [[3]] Florida Natural Areas Inventory. Accessed: January 19, 2016