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SPECIES:  Liatris punctata
Dotted blazing star. Creative Commons image by Matt Lavin.



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: []. Revisions: On 29 May 2018, the common name of this species was changed in FEIS from: blazing star to: dotted blazing star. Images were also added.
ABBREVIATION LIAPUN SYNONYMS For Liatris punctata var. punctata: Liatris punctata var. nebraskana Gaiser [16,33,43] NRCS PLANT CODE LIPU LIPUM LIPUM2 COMMON NAMES dotted blazing star dotted button snakeroot dotted gayfeather gayfeather liatris TAXONOMY The scientific name of dotted blazing star is Liatris punctata Hook [3,16,20]. It is in the sunflower family (Asteraceae). Recognized varieties are as follows [43]: Liatris punctata var. punctata, dotted blazing star Liatris punctata var. mexicana Gaiser, Mexican blazing star Liatris punctata Hook. var. mucronata (DC.) B.L. Turner, cusp blazing star LIFE FORM Forb FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS No special status OTHER STATUS NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Liatris punctata
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION Dotted 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 occurs in the Midwest and Great Lakes; L. p. var. mucronata from Kansaa and Missouri to Texas and Louisiana; L. p. var. mexicana in Oklahoma and Texas [19,43].
Distribution of dotted blazing star. Map courtesy of USDA, NRCS. 2018. The PLANTS Database. National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC [2018, 29 May 2018] [43].
   FRES21  Ponderosa pine
   FRES29  Sagebrush
   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

    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

   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

   220  Rocky Mountain juniper
   237  Interior ponderosa pine
   239  Pinyon - juniper


The following classification lists dotted 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
        Dakota [32].

Associates of dotted blazing star vary with location, since this species has a
wide ecological amplitude and it occurs in a variety of prairie

Associates of dotted 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) [1].

Associates of dotted 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
juncea) [41].

Associates of dotted 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) [29].

Associates of dotted 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) [29]


SPECIES: Liatris punctata
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE Domestic livestock, particularly sheep, graze dotted blazing star, especially when plants are young [40]. Rocky Mountain elk in Montana also graze dotted blazing star. Dotted 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 [28]. 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 [31]. Young dotted blazing star plants are eaten by rodents [31]. Dotted 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 dotted blazing star occurrence [30].
A Pawnee montane skipper on a dotted blazing star flower. Wikimedia Commons image taken at Pike-San Isabel National Forest, Colorado, by Mike Elson.

Goetz [18] stated that dotted blazing star has little value as a forage species
because of its coarse leaves.

Dotted blazing star palatability for livestock in several western states is as
follows [12]:

                    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
preferred [31].

Dotted blazing star energy value for livestock is fair; protein value is poor [12].

The food value of dotted blazing star is as follows [12]:

                                 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 dotted blazing star, but their low concentrations are
unlikely to cause acute toxicity, particularly because most hay contains
relatively little dotted blazing star [30].

The cover value of dotted blazing star is as follows [12]:

                                ND        WY

        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      ----.

Dotted 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.  Dotted 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].

Dotted blazing star is being developed and released for prairie rehabilitation
[23].  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]) [14].
Plants show good vigor [23].

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 dotted blazing star [11].

Dotted blazing star is a common floral decoration [24].

Dotted blazing star contains sesquiterpene lactones and alkaloids which have
been extracted for use in biological tests [30].  Some components have
cytotoxic effects [22].

The carrot-flavored root of dotted blazing star was used by American Indians
for food [24].  The plants of this genus were consumed in New England as
a treatment for gonorrhea [40].

Rangeland:  Dotted blazing star is drought resistant and well adapted to a
variety of upland prairies [24].  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 [10].  During periods of extended
drought, dotted blazing star decreases in abundance and height [31].  During
the drought of 1931-1937 dotted blazing star completely disappeared from many
sites in eastern Colorado [29].

Dotted blazing star is preferred by grazing animals.  It classified as a
decreaser, soon disappearing under continuous overgrazing [24,46].

Herbicides:  Dotted 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.  Dotted blazing star did not appear in any treatment plots
in which herbicides were used [8].

Other:  In Colorado, dotted blazing star is a major host for the parasitic
plant wholeleaf Indian paintbrush (Castilleja integra) [30].


SPECIES: Liatris punctata
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS Dotted blazing star is a native, warm-season, perennial forb [40]. It has one to several stems 4 to 32 inches (0.1-0.8 m) tall [20]. The inflorescence is a dense spike up to 12 inches (30 cm) long [40]. The fruit is an achene. The pappus is persistent [3]. The stems arise from an erect or weakly spreading thick, short rootstock elongated into a thickened taproot [20]. The taproot is 4.25 to 16.4 feet (1.3-5 m) deep, with laterals at various levels [3]. Dotted blazing star develops rhizomes [31].
Dotted blazing star fruits. Image by Steve Hurst, hosted by the USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database .
Dotted blazing star develops slowly and is long lived.  Ring counts in
root crowns showed plant ages greater than 35 years [45].


Dotted blazing star reproduces vegetatively by sprouting from rhizomes and
sexually by wind-disseminated seeds [31] which have a very long plumose
pappus [14].  The seeds have two periods of maximum germination: in the
spring after fall maturation, and during the following fall [7].
Dotted 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.

Dotted 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

Dotted 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 [38].

Dotted 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.
Dotted blazing star seeds had the highest germination rate in April, averaging
about 71 percent over all storage conditions [5,6].

Dotted blazing star inhabits dry, open, upland sites, especially in sandy soil
[20].  It is found on dry prairie [3], dry plains, and hills [40].
Dotted blazing star is also found on calcareous soils on the Edwards Plateau
and in the Guadalupe Mountains of Texas [25].

Dotted 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.  Dotted blazing star makes good growth on gentle and
moderate slopes and fair growth on steep slopes [12].

Dotted blazing star occurs at the following elevations:

                     Elevation (feet)    Elevation (m)

          CO           3,500-8,000        1,067-2,438    [21]
          MT           2,800-6,400          853-1,951    [12]
          SD           3,600-5,000        1,097-1,524    [37]
          WY           3,700-7,400        1,128-2,255    [12].

Dotted blazing star is a member of the mature prairie community [35] and does
not tolerate deep litter or shading [31].  It often increases after
disturbance [35].

Dotted 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 [42]

Dotted 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 [41].

Dotted 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 dotted blazing star began to reproduce vegetatively.  On
reaching maturity, 94.1 percent of dotted blazing star plants on disturbed
sites flowered [35].

Dotted 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 [45].  After the first
year dotted blazing star begins growth in spring and attains its mature height
in late summer [18].

Dotted blazing star flowering times are:

                  Begin          Peak             End
                Flowering      Flowering       Flowering

     CO         August         August          September  [12]
     IL         August           ----          October    [33]
     KS         August         September       October    [23]
     MT         July           August          September  [12]
     ND         July           August          September  [9]
     WY         July           August          September  [12] 
Great Plains    July             ----          October    [20].

In central North Dakota dotted blazing star populations bloom an average of
38 days each year [9].  In western North Dakota dotted blazing star attains its
mature height by mid-August [18].


SPECIES: Liatris punctata
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS Dotted blazing star has good fire tolerance due to reproduction by rhizomes [31]. It produces numerous, small, wind-dispersed seeds [3] which can establish on burned sites. Dotted blazing star thrives in the open, sunny conditions created by fire [31]. No information was available on seed tolerance to heat, or length of seed viability in the seedbank. FIRE REGIMES Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under "Find Fire Regimes". 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 Dotted 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 [31]. PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE Dotted blazing star is listed as tolerant of fire in the tallgrass prairie of the Central Great Plains, where it often increases following fire [47]. Dotted 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 [34]. 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, dotted blazing star had increased in dry valley sites and choppy sand sites. Its presence on rolling sandy sites was unchanged [46]. 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 dotted blazing star response between backfires and headfires within a season [26]. An area in the Badlands of western North Dakota burned on August 14, 1954. Dotted blazing star frequency in August, 1958, was the same on both burned and unburned areas [13]. Other sites burned in a severe wildfire on May 29, 1958. Dotted blazing star was present in August, 1958, at 25 percent frequency on unburned areas, but had decreased to 17 percent frequency on burned areas [2]. FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS Postfire soil moisture is a major factor in determining the effect of fire on dotted 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 [2].


SPECIES: Liatris punctata
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[18826] 30. Mead, Elliott W.; Looker, Michael; Gardner, Dale R.; Stermitz, Frank R. 1992. Pyrrolizidine alkaloids of Liatris punctata and its root parasite, Castilleja integra. Phytochemistry. 31(9): 3255-3257. [22082] 31. Menhusen, Bernadette R. 1973. Ecology of the prairie species of the genus Liatris. In: Hulbert, Lloyd C., ed. Third Midwest prairie conference proceedings; 1972 September 22-23; Manhattan, KS. Manhattan, KS: Kansas State University, Division of Biology: 60-62. [3329] 32. Meyer, Marvis I. 1985. Classification of native vegetation at the Woodworth Station, North Dakota. Prairie Naturalist. 17(3): 167-175. [5432] 33. Mohlenbrock, Robert H. 1986. (Revised edition). Guide to the vascular flora of Illinois. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press. 507 p. [17383] 34. Pemble, R. H.; Van Amburg, G. L.; Mattson, Lyle. 1981. Intraspecific variation in flowering activity following a spring burn on a northwestern Minnesota prairie. 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Seral origin of species originating in northern Rocky Mountain forests. Unpublished draft on file at: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT; RWU 4403 files. 7 p. [20090] 40. Stubbendieck, J.; Hatch, Stephan L.; Hirsch, Kathie J. 1986. North American range plants. 3rd ed. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press. 465 p. [2270] 41. Tolstead, W. L. 1941. Plant communities and secondary succession in south-central South Dakota. Ecology. 22(3): 322-328. [5887] 42. Tolstead, W. L. 1947. Woodlands in northwestern Nebraska. Ecology. 28(2): 180-188. [18407] 43. USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. 2018. PLANTS Database, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service (Producer). Available: [34262] 44. Vance, F. R.; Jowsey, J. R.; McLean, J. S. 1984. Wildflowers of the Northern Great Plains. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press. 336 p. [22199] 45. Weaver, J. 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