S. Carolina, Georgia and Louisiana.
Late summer and autumn.
Flower-heads: large; terminal; individual flowers all tubular, the marginal ones much larger than those of the centre, irregular, ray-like and split deeply on the inside. The summit also deeply cleft. Scales of the involucre imbricated in several rows, the outer one becoming bristly and leaf-like. Leaves: alternate; lanceolate; entire; glabrous; the upper one sessile and fringed at the base like the bracts. Stem; nearly two feet high; erect; downy.
Very lovely is the blue stokesia, and when we come to inquire into its life history we find that it is no less interesting than beautiful. Our curiosity is piqued concerning it because it is the only member of its genus and seems not to be closely related to any other. Now, as the theory is that every plant is evolved from some other, we begin to wonder about the missing links between this flower and its antecedents. How has it appeared among us without showing any trace of its passage here ? Has it, like Topsy, "just come ?" It also pursues its own course indomitably, without showing the slightest inclination to vary, or produce new species. From this might be argued that the stokesia has reached its height of development and is about to die out. As yet we need not grieve too deeply over its loss, however; evolution is very considerate and would hardly effect so great a change in much less than a million years.
The gradation of the leaves on the stem into bracts also illustrates the theory of plant morphology almost more than is done by any other one of the composites. Whether the stokesia believes these theories of which it is so good an example is, unfortunately, like its antecedents, wrapped in mystery.