Plants 30-80 cm. Corms globose to slightly elongate. Stems glabrous or puberulent-villous. Leaves: basal and proximal cauline 3-5-nerved, broadly linear to linear-oblanceolate, 70-220 × 2-12 mm (largest usually distal to proximalmost), gradually reduced distally, puberulent-villous or glabrous, weakly gland-dotted. Heads borne singly or (3-26) in loose, racemiform to spiciform arrays. Peduncles 0 or (spreading to ascending) 1-8(-20+) mm. Involucres cylindro-campanulate, 12-20(-25) × 7-10 mm. Phyllaries (usually erect, sometimes spreading-reflexing on the distal 1/3) in 5-7 series, narrowly ovate-triangular and foliaceous (outer) to ovate or oblong-triangular, ± equal, glabrous or pubescent, margins without hyaline borders, stiffly to softly ciliate, apices acuminate to acute. Florets (10-)23-45(-60); corolla tubes glabrous inside (lobes adaxially hispid). Cypselae 4-5.5 mm; pappi: lengths ± equaling corollas, bristles plumose. See discussion under 1. Liatris compacta.
Glabrous or hairy, 3-8 dm; lvs linear or a little broader, firm, those near the base 6-25 cm נ4-13 mm, often partly sheathing, or the very lowest often smaller and deciduous; heads mostly few or even solitary, on stiff, erect peduncles or sessile; invol 12-25(-30) mm, its bracts firm, with loose or squarrose, acuminate tip; fls 20-45 per head, or up to 60 in the terminal head; inner surface of the cor-lobes coarsely hairy; pappus evidently plumose; 2n=20. Dry, open places; Del. to S.D., s. to Fla. and Tex. July-Aug. Three vars. in our range.
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.