Polk County’s most wanted — plant

Published 10:37 pm Thursday, October 3, 2013

In a joint effort to expand the knowledge and understanding of the flora and fauna of Polk County, the Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC) and botanist, David Campbell need your help in locating this month’s “Most Wanted — Plant,” Liatris microcephala, also known by the common names, Small-headed Blazing-star, Smooth Blazing-star, Dwarf Blazing-star and Small-head Gayfeather, to name a few.

Small-headed Blazing-star is native to the southern Appalachian Mountains and although it is rare in North Carolina, it can be found in the mountains and piedmont.

Specimens have been collected from Rutherford and Polk counties in North Carolina; however, the specimen from Polk County was collected in 1921 and it has not been reported since, but that does not mean that it is no longer growing here.

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The public is asked to keep a keen eye on the landscape over the next few months and to contact PAC if they think that they see this plant in the county.

A member of the Asteraceae family (the Asters), Small-headed Blazing-star is a perennial forb (an herb that is not a grass). This plant is best located when it is in bloom, from August through October.

Multiple, erect, leafy flower stalks are about 2’ in height and arise from tufts of narrow, grass-like leaves. Flowers are on an indeterminate spike and flower from the top to the bottom.

The flowers encircle the stalks with numerous ¾’’ rose-purple flowers. They prefer to grow on or near outcrops of acidic rocks containing sandstone, granite or gneiss.

If you think that you have seen this species or know where it might be located, contact PAC at 828-859-5060, or e-mail comments, questions or photos to landprotection@pacolet.org.

The purpose of this project is to gain a better understanding of the flora and fauna in Polk County and document the species present in the county.

– article submitted by Pam Torlina