A short lived perennial, the Dense Blazing Star, Liatris spicta, resides in the sand hills and moist pine flatwoods in most of Florida’s counties including Lee. Spicta is in the Asteraceae family. Spicta grows from a shallow fibrous root system. A single erect herbaceous stem grows to height of 4 to 5 feet. The stem is heavily leaved by very long and narrow linear leaves that grow in whorls. Leaf length is up to 10 inches and barely ¼ inch wide. Leaves progress up the stem become shorter and shorter until they run into the plants inflorescence.
Spicta’s inflorescence is that of a spike that grows downward towards the leaves. Flowers heads open at the tip of the stem. Each flower head can hold up to ten tiny pinkish-purple five-lobed tubular disk florets. There are no ray florets. Two white stigma columns projected from the tube wave in the wind to attract pollinators. A tiny black anther with pollen can hardly be seen in the tube. After pollination, disk florets turns into wind blown seeds.
Spicta is a nectar source for monarch butterflies. Citizen scientists working on the Preserve’s Project Monarch Program planted two spictas to help feed the Monarchs. Spicta mean spike.