Two Rare Liatris Species

Jul 18, 2022

Two Rare Liatris Species Named for Beadel Fellows Angus Gholson & Bob Godfrey

Liatris, commonly called gay feather or blazing star, is an herbaceous perennial wildflower with composite flower heads, and is in the Aster family. Several liatris species can found in the native ground cover of the sandhills, mesic longleaf pinelands, scrub and pine flatwoods communities in Florida. The plant ranges from 1– 4 feet tall, with flower spikes that are 6–12 inches long; it blooms in the late summer/early fall, August to October. Two rare species can only be found in the Panhandle of Florida, Liatris gholsonii and Liatris provincialis Godfrey, and they are named for two of Tall Timbers’ past Beadel Fellows, Angus Gholson and Robert K. Godfrey, respectively.

Liatris gholsonii, commonly called Bluffs blazing star or Gholson’s blazing star, was discovered by Loren C. Anderson in 2002, and named for Angus Gholson. The habitat for this species is the bluffs and ravines of the upper Apalachicola River in the Florida Panhandle; Gholson’s stomping grounds.

Liatris Gholsonii

Liatris gholsonii observed in Liberty County, Florida. Observation © lillybyrd · some rights reserved.

This area of the Panhandle was heavily damaged by Hurricane Michael in 2018. A 2019 assessment by the Florida Natural Areas Inventory to the Florida Park Service of the forest damage at Torreya State Park, which is situated on the high bluffs overlooking the Apalachicola River, noted that “many hardwood forests along the uplands at the tops of the ravines likely developed through decades of fire exclusion or fire not burning all the way to the edge of the ravines. Additionally, a rare plant species, Gholson’s blazing star (Liatris gholsonii), occupies this ecotone area along the upper slopes between sandhill and the sloping hardwood dominated ravine and could potentially benefit from restoring fire to these areas.”

Liatris provincialis Godfrey was discovered by Robert Godfrey on Alligator Point, in Franklin County in 1959. Its habitat is the transition zone between coastal scrub and flatwoods and between sandhill and flatwoods near the Gulf coast of Franklin and Wakulla Counties where it is endemic, and primarily found on protected sites at the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge.

Originally published in the 2022 Tall Timbers eJournal.

Liatris-provincialis Godfrey

Liatris provincialis Godfrey in bloom at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Alan Cressler

About the Author
Rose Rodriguez
Rose Rodriguez is the Publications Coordinator at Tall Timbers. She writes, edits, and designs information for print and digital publications
  • Recent Articles
    A milestone on the horizon for woodpeckers in the Red Hills

    Few places in the Southeast can say that the red-cockaded woodpecker has never left the landscape. The Red Hills is among the lucky areas that can make this claim due to the historic use of fire and the unique forest management. Despite this advantage, the Red Hills...

    Wild quail hunting safety video

    If you are a landowner looking for a simple hunting safety orientation for your guests, or if you have been invited to participate in a southern quail hunt, this video is available to meet your needs. In under eight minutes, we cover the safety basics and common...

    Rx fire permit database highlights hot moments and hot spots

    A database developed by Tall Timbers coalescing prescribed fire permit data across the Southeast is a first step in answering bigger research questions and serve as a valuable advocacy tool to continue promoting prescribed fire’s widespread use. The Prescribed Fire...

    Land Manager Profile: Robbie Green

    The manager of Osceola and Tallokas has made some drastic changes since he came on board more than a decade ago. Learn more about Robbie and the properties he manages.

    Related Articles