Dotted Blazingstar
Liatris punctata Hook.
Family: Asteraceae, Aster
Genus: Liatris
Synonyms:
Other names: dotted gayfeather
Nomenclature: punctata = with small dots
Nativity / Invasiveness: Montana native plant
Edible plant
Medicinal plant
Description

General: plant 10-40 cm tall. Growth habit: perennial from a well developed, thickened, elongated stem base. Stems: several from base, hairless.

Leaves: alternate, numerous, linear, 2.5-7 mm wide, dotted with tiny pits, hairless except for coarse hairs on the edges. The lowermost commonly smaller than those just above and soon dropped.

Flowerheads: pink-purple, with 4-6 disk florets, several in a spike-like cluster, stalkless. Stigmas have long, thread-like appendages. Corolla lobes hairless, the tube hairy toward the base within. Involucre almost cylindric, 10-18 mm high, its bracts oblong, abruptly sharp-pointed, often long-hairy on edges. July-September.

Fruits: achenes, hairy, 10-ribbed, with pappus of white, feathery bristles.


Distribution

Dry, open places, roadsides, often in sandy soil, mostly e. of the continental divide in MT. Also from Alberta to Manitoba, MI, AR, and n. Mexico.
Edible Uses

Some tribes on the plains used the thickened stem bases of blazingstar as survival food, but generally they were used as medicine. The roots of most Liatris species contain the starch inulin, which can't be metabolized by humans, but which is considered a mild liver and kidney tonic.



Medicinal Uses

Blazingstar tea was used to treat kidney, bladder and menstrual problems, water retention, gonorrhea, colic, throat inflammation and laryngitis. It was also gargled to soothe sore throats. Mashed roots were applied to snake bites as a poultice, and they were also simmered in honey to make a cough syrup. In New Mexico, dried roots were burned like incense. The smoke was inhaled to relieve headaches and nosebleeds, and it was also blown into the throat to cure inflamed tonsils.


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