Liatris provincialis - Godfrey
Godfrey's Blazingstar
Other Common Names: Godfrey's blazing star
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Liatris provincialis Godfrey (TSN 37935)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.145085
Element Code: PDAST5X0L0
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Aster Family
Image 10420

© Alfred R. Schotz

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Dicotyledoneae Asterales Asteraceae Liatris
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Concept Reference
Concept Reference: Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.
Concept Reference Code: B94KAR01HQUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Liatris provincialis
Taxonomic Comments: Distinct species but very similar to Liatris chapmanii from which it differs primarily in having flower heads at right angles to the stem rather than appressed along it (Godfrey 1961).
Conservation Status

NatureServe Status

Global Status: G2
Global Status Last Reviewed: 20May2009
Global Status Last Changed: 20Jul1984
Rounded Global Status: G2 - Imperiled
Reasons: A species with a very small geographic range in the panhandle of Florida. This species' habitat has been destroyed by commercial development of coastal dunes and by the overgrowth of pines due to fire suppression.
Nation: United States
National Status: N2

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Florida (S2)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: Endemic to Florida; occurs in Wakulla and Franklin Counties, reported erroneously from Gulf County. While Godfrey and Ward (1978) reported that the species "is found only in Gulf, Franklin, and Wakulla counties, Florida, on or not far distant from the Gulf Coast", a more recent survey by the Florida Natural Areas Inventory reveals the occurrence in Gulf County is Liatris chapmanii (Muenchow 1993).

Number of Occurrences: 21 - 80
Number of Occurrences Comments: In Florida, there are approximately 49 occurrences observed since 1989 and 7 others last observed earlier. However, some of these Florida occurrences should potentially be combined (A. Jenkins, pers. comm. 2009).

Population Size Comments: Locally abundant especially in clearcuts.

Overall Threat Impact Comments: This species is threatened by loss of habitat, primarily due to habitat conversion to pine plantations in inland sites and storm erosion of coastal dunes on which populations are now located. Habitat is also threatened by construction on, and intensive development of, coastal dunes.

Intrinsic Vulnerability Comments: Requires open habitat to flower.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Global Range: Endemic to Florida; occurs in Wakulla and Franklin Counties, reported erroneously from Gulf County. While Godfrey and Ward (1978) reported that the species "is found only in Gulf, Franklin, and Wakulla counties, Florida, on or not far distant from the Gulf Coast", a more recent survey by the Florida Natural Areas Inventory reveals the occurrence in Gulf County is Liatris chapmanii (Muenchow 1993).

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States FL

Range Map
No map available.

U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
FL Bay (12005), Franklin (12037), Wakulla (12129)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
03 Apalachee Bay-St. Marks (03120001)+, Lower Ochlockonee (03120003)+, New (03130013)+, Apalachicola Bay (03130014)+, St. Andrew-St. Joseph Bays (03140101)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
Basic Description: A perennial herb. Stems may reach 8 dm tall and are leafy near the base. Leaf blades are linear to lance-shaped and gradually reduced upwards to bracts. The inflorescence consists of many spreading, cylindric, bright lavender heads that lack ray flowers (Ward 1979).
Diagnostic Characteristics: Distinct species but very similar to L. chapmanii from which it differs primarily in having flower heads at right angles to the stem rather than appressed along it.
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Forest Edge, Forest/Woodland, Old field, Savanna, Shrubland/chaparral, Woodland - Conifer, Woodland - Mixed
Habitat Comments: Somewhat open, disturbed areas until the canopy closes, then only along fire lines, stabilized sand dunes, coastal longleaf pine/sand pine-scrub oak barrens, and borders of mesic flatwoods (Ward 1979; Kral 1983.)

Liatris provincialis was observed in great abundance on sand dunes along the Gulf of Mexico between Lighthouse Point and Peninsular Point, Franklin County, Florida. There it occurred from the crest of the fore dunes shoreward on more stabilized dunes and into the evergreen oak-sand pine scrub adjacent. This area is a small narrow peninsula more or less paralleling the mainland on the seaward side of Alligator Harbor and is sometimes referred to as Alligator Peninsula. Later the plant was found to occur in evergreen oak-sand pine scrub along the coast from nearby Ochlockonee Bay generally southwestward to Carabelle and a little beyond, a distance of about 30 miles; also on sandy ridges of turkey oak-longleaf pine about two miles back from the coast in this vicinity and for about two miles north of Ochlockonee bay in the vicinity of Panacea. Diligent search in areas of coastal dunes and evergreen oak-sand pine scrub near the Gulf westward of the Apalachicola River and on sandy ridges of turkey oak-longleaf pine elsewhere throughout the Florida Panhandle failed to reveal any other places of occurrence for this new Liatris (Godfrey, 1961). Ann Johnson (pers. comm.) clarifies that this species does not colonize foredunes, but is found in that location following erosion of dunes.

Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
Management Summary
Stewardship Overview: Liatris provincialis is a rare species adapted to a geographically-limited, coastal-dune range along the western coast of North Central Florida and inland in panhandle coastal scrub and sandhill habitats, as at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge (Muenchow 1993). The species is well adapted to this environment, and although never plentiful, might be expected to maintain its population levels in coastal dunes if it were not for dramatic storm-related loss of dunes in the last decade, and human encroachment on coastal dune areas for recreation and construction. In more inlands sites, threats have been from habitat conversion to pine plantation and fire suppression.

In sandhills of St. Marks NWR, this species occurs both as scattered individual plants and as more clustered plants. The clusters tend to be in areas that were disturbed (old slash pine plantations) or areas recently burned. Although this species occurs on stable dunes at Alligator Point, its primary population is not on dunes but inland in scrub and sandhill habitats. It does not grow on Dog Island or St. Joseph Peninsula, where it is replaced by L. chapmanii (A. Johnson, pers. comm.; Muenchow 1993).

Protection of habitat with controlled disturbance and access will be required for persistence of this species. Godfrey and Ward (1978) suggest that disturbance (e.g., fire or light soil disturbance) should occur every several years. Plants likely re-sprout from their corms following above ground tissue loss.

A research effort that results in a protocol for reproduction of this species under controlled circumstances is in progress at Bok Tower Gardens. It would be useful to determine if the species is clonal through vegetative corm reproduction and whether plants can be successfully transplanted to the wild.

Species Impacts: This plant has no observable impact on other species or the surrounding environment. It is not a pest, weed, or otherwise invasive. In some years, this species may be important for migratory butterfly populations (S. Hermann, unpub. data).
Restoration Potential: Liatris provincialis is found on stabilized sand dunes and in longleaf or sand pine-scrub oak barrens. When areas are cleared for pine farms, it becomes temporarily abundant, then dies out as the pine canopy closes, persisting only along the edges of fire lanes (Godfrey and Ward, 1978). This characteristic may offer a strategy for increasing the seed production of existing populations for use in restoration.

As the original habitat was never large, restoration is problematic. Management schemes that favor this plant over competing species may increase its numbers locally. Periodic disturbance or fire management is recommended by Godfrey and Ward (1978). Controlled burns at J. S. Phipps Preserve removed leaf litter. Ten days after fire, rosettes of L. provincialis were detected. These are most likely plants that previously had no above ground material due to unfavorable growing conditions (S. Hermann, Undated).

Seed of L. provincialis is contained in long-term seed storage at Bok Tower Gardens, but the effect of long-term storage on the seed is unknown (Race, personal communication 1996).

Tammera Race, Curator of Endangered Plants, Bok Tower Gardens, has conducted experiments with propagating L. provincialis. The seed source is mature plants contained in Bok Tower Gardens' nursery, grown from seed collected from a wild population in Franklin County. Seeds are sown immediately after harvesting with no special treatment. Soil is either a sterile soil-less potting media (MetroMix 500 or similar) mixed with Perlite, or for other species, sand mixes. Seeds germinate in three to four weeks with a germination rate of 50-60%. Germination trays are watered as necessary to keep them moist, but are not put under mist.

The germinated seedlings are grown out in the greenhouse under high light. Seedlings grow very slowly and are susceptible to fungal problems. They should not be overwatered and should be well spaced in well drained soils. Treat with a chemical fungicide as necessary.

Plants transplant well. The outdoor beds at Bok Tower Gardens are well drained yellow sands which are sometimes watered but usually depend on natural rainfall. However, because of the fairly healthy, protected population at St. Marks NWR, it is probably not neccessary to cultivate this species to maintain genetic stock or support restoration by re-introduction at this time.

Other methods of propagation have not worked well. Some basal shoots will root. Thirty percent of bulb divisions produced shoots, but did not root well and never produced mature plants (Race, personal communication 1996).

Similar work with L. ohlingerae indicates that germination rates for viable seed were high, but that seed fill (viable seed) was only 13% (Herndon, 1994). Time to maturity from seed was less than one year. Therefore it may be possible to propagate this species under greenhouse conditions, and then introduce the plants back into the native habitat.

Hermann quotes Platt as saying that burning may increase clonal development by inducing bud break and initiation of daughter clones (Hermann, 1987). This may be another strategy for obtaining additional material for restoration.

Preserve Selection & Design Considerations: Perhaps this plant can be maintained by keeping the pine canopy clear near an area where it would grow naturally. This could be done either by burning or mechanically.

This plant grows on areas that are attractive to people for recreational purposes. Any preserve design would need to consider the ease of access to the preserve by people for recreational purposes, and if the preserve would have any way of controlling this access.

The flower is attractive and apt to be picked in large quantities by casual passers-by. Prevention of this would require the ability of the preserve to limit access and to educate those people who were granted access to the preserve.

Management Requirements: The management requirements for this species include maintaining the open, sandy habitats to which this species is native. In the inland sites, this requires fire or other management to open the canopy and reduce competition. On coastal areas like Alligator Point, storm activity likely maintains the open habitat, with little additional influence of fire (TNC 1995). However, in decades when storm activity is minor, prescribed fire may have greater effects on population size (D. Gordon, pers. comm.).

L. provincialis grows in sandy clearings in longleaf pine-turkey oak scrub or in the sand-pine, Ceratiola, evergreen scrub oak type. It is shade intolerant, hence is probably maintained naturally through fire removing competing shrub and overstory. Its most common herbaceous associates during the flowering period are various goldenrods, golden-asters, pinweeds, jointweeds such as Polygonella, etc., all species of deep, dryish sands (Kral, 1983). It often also grows in association with another endemic, the bent golden aster (Pityopsis flexuosa) in the Panacea area (A. Johnson, pers. comm.).

Dr. Kral predicts that the establishment of pine plantations would destroy populations of L. provincialis, that bulldozing or chopping would have no long lasting effect, and that prescribed burns, thinning the overstory, and cutting the overstory would be beneficial if done properly (Kral 1980). Ann Johnson (pers. comm.) agrees with this general prediction, but suggests that bedding for pine plantations may temporarily cause population increases before shading from the pines results in stress.

Monitoring Requirements: Demographic monitoring would involve marking each individual, as the plant can exist for long periods of time with no vegetative material above the ground (Hermann pers. comm.). Race (pers. comm.) has also observed that mature plants may not resprout after winter, although it is not clear if this represents a dormant corm or a dead one. Previous attempts to quantify seedling growth rate in the field have failed because it was unknown if what appeared to be a seedling was actually a two-to-three year old individual plant. Therefore it is important to distinguish seedling germination in the field and monitor them to determine how fast plants mature in the natural environment. Any monitoring plan should include observations to coincide with flowering in September.

Management Programs: TNC is managing the population at the John S. Phipps Preserve. Controlled burns are used to burn no more than half the population at any one time. The population is being monitored, and access is restricted. The population at the preserve has been substantially reduced by storm activity in the 1990s (TNC 1995).
Monitoring Programs: A monitoring report, written in 1993, describes results of monitoring plant flowering response to controlled burning at John S. Phipps Preserve. A population of approximately 2000 plants was divided in half. One half was burned in 1992. The second half was burned in 1993. In 1991, before burning of either half of the population, percent flowering was 69% for the first half, and 60% for the second half. In 1992, the first half of the population was burned. The percent flowering in 1992 was 93% for the first half, and 77% for the second half. In 1993, the second half was burned. This year the percent flowering for each half of the population was 95%. Burning appeared to increase the percentage of plants blooming from between 60 and 77% to 95% (TNC 1995).

A field survey of Ochlockonee River State Park by Muenchow (1993) reports a patch of L. provincialis that had been burned that year, were small but numerous and blooming. Streng in 1989 and Muenchow in 1993 surveyed St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge and reported L. provincialis blooming in 15 sections of townships in Wakulla County (from FNAI database 1996).

Flowering and stem abundance were monitored annually over 1991 to 1995 in a population of Liatris provincialis at The Nature Conservancy's John S. Phipps Preserve, Franklin County. The number of flowering and non-flowering stems were counted within 56 transects stratified randomly from a central baseline. Twenty-eight transects extended at a 25 degree heading (Bay Site) and the other 28 transects extended at a 205 degree heading (Gulf Site). The Bay transects were burned March 31, 1992 and April 18, 1995, and the Gulf transects were burned April 12, 1990, and April 12, 1993. The total number of Liatris provincialis stems from all transects increased from 1,129 in 1991 to 1,237 in 1992, but then declined following several major storms to 385 in 1995. Percent flowering ranged from 27% to 95% in both sites over the five years. A non-parametric analysis of variance found no significant change in total stem or flowering stem density over time. No relationship was seen between time since burn and either total stem density or percent flowering. The greatest threat to this species appears to be erosion and overwash due to storm activity. The shortterm and longterm trend is for reduced stem density and reduced flowering. The status is declining and vulnerable to expirpation due to storm activity (TNC 1995).

Management Research Programs: No management research programs are currently under way.

Dr. Sharon Hermann conducted a research program on L. provincialis growing in John S. Phipps park between 1988 and 1990. Hermann reports that Liatris burned during the growing season would resprout and bloom the same season, but that blooming would occur in October instead of September. She hypothesized that the timing of flowering is important because the species supports migrating butterfly populations (Hermann, 1987).

Management Research Needs: The following questions either have been the object of limited research and need further clarification or have not yet received even initial attention:

Is L. provincialis self-fertile or must it be cross pollinated?

What are the habitat characteristics of the large and vigorous populations? We know that they do well under plowed fire rows, but for how long? Are they more vigorous than plants growing on the dunes in full sun?

Does L. provincialis reproduce vegetatively?

For how long can an individual plant remain viable with no above ground vegetation? What triggers vegetative regrowth?

What is the cause of low viability in seeds (15%)?

Does L. provincialis have a seed bank?

How long does it take a plant to reach reproductive maturity?

Can L. provincialis be transplanted?

Additional topics: The extent to which migratory butterfly populations rely on L. provincialis for energy is unknown. If fire can be used to manipulate flowering phenology, should this management be recommended because of support for the butterflies?

How do L. provincialis plant populations develop in two or three widespread areas if seed cannot be wind dispersed easily?
Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
Population/Occurrence Viability
U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 01Jul1991
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: D.L. White; rev. A. F. Johnson, rev. A. Tomaino (2009)
Management Information Edition Date: 05May1997
Management Information Edition Author: Martin A. McKellar

Botanical data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs), The North Carolina Botanical Garden, and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).


  • Clewell, A.F. 1985. Guide to vascular plants of the Florida panhandle. Florida State Univ. Press, Tallahassee, Florida. 605 pp.

  • Flora of North America Editorial Committee. 2006c. Flora of North America North of Mexico. Vol. 21. Magnoliophyta: Asteridae, part 8: Asteraceae, part 3. Oxford Univ. Press, New York. xxii + 616 pp.

  • Godfrey, R. K. 1961. Liatris provincialis, sp. nov., (Compositae), endemic in western Florida. The American Midland Naturalist 66: 466-470.

  • Godfrey, R.K. and D.B. Ward. 1978. Godfrey's Blazing-Star. In: Rare and Endangered Biota of Florida: Plants. 5: 98-99.

  • Hermann, S. 1987. Liatris provincialis on the John Phipps Preserve: Population demography and affect of controlled burning. Research proposal and grant application to The Nature Conservancy. Arlington, VA.

  • Hermann, S. Undated. Liatris provincialis on the John Phipps Preserve: A project supported by K. Ordway Fund for Research and Monitoring, SERO Fire Steward Program, Florida Field Office and Tall Timbers Research Station.

  • Herndon, A. 1994. Life history studies in the scrub endemic Liatris ohlingrae. Unpublished annual report.

  • Johnson, A.F. 1993. Status survey of Liatris provincialis. Grant agreement No. 14-16-0004-92-986 between the Florida Natural Areas Inventory and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Jacksonville, Florida.


  • Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.

  • Kral, R. 1980. Liatris provincialis Godfrey, Godfrey's gay-feather. Paper 123 USDA Forest Service Southern Region. pp. 1199-1201.

  • Kral, R. 1983c. A report on some rare, threatened, or endangered forest-related vascular plants of the South. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Forest Service Technical Publication R8-TP2, Athens, GA. 1305 pp.

  • Kral, R. 1983d. Liatris provincialis Godfrey, Godfrey's gay-feather. In: A report on some rare, threatened or endangered forest related vascular plants of the south. USFS technical publication R8-TP2, Atlanta, GA. Vol. 2, Part 2: 1199-1202.

  • Muenchow, G. 1993. Survey for Liatris provincialis. Unpublished report. Florida Natural Areas Inventory, Tallahassee.


  • Radford, A.E., H.E. Ahles, and C.R. Bell. 1968. Manual of the vascular flora of the Carolinas. Univ. North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, NC. 1183 pp.

  • The Nature Conservancy. 1995. Monitoring Report: Liatris provincialis. Gainesville, FL.



  • Ward, D.B., ed. 1979. Rare and endangered biota of Florida. Vol. 5: Plants. Univ. Presses of Florida, Gainesville.

  • Wunderlin, R.P. 1982. Guide to the vascular plants of central Florida. Univ. Presses Florida, Gainesville. 472 pp.

  • Wunderlin, R.P. Guide to the vascular plants of Florida. University Press of Florida. Gainesville, FL 32611.

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