Plants 20-60 cm. Corms usually globose, rarely elongate. Stems glabrous. Leaves: basal and proximal cauline 3(-5)-nerved, linear-oblanceolate to linear-lanceolate, 80-250 × 2-6 mm (largest usually distal to proximalmost), gradually reduced distally, essentially glabrous (proximal margins pilose-ciliate). Heads borne singly or (2-28) in loose to dense, racemiform to spiciform arrays. Peduncles 0 or (spreading-ascending) 2-10(-20) mm. Involucres cylindro-campanulate, (11-)13-18 × 6-8 mm. Phyllaries in 5-7 series, ovate-triangular (outer) to broadly oblong or spatulate-oblong, strongly unequal, essentially glabrous, margins usually with narrow hyaline borders, ciliolate, apices broadly rounded, rounded-acuminate, or truncate (inner stiffly mucronate). Florets 10-35; corolla tubes glabrous inside (lobes adaxially hispid). Cypselae 5-7 mm; pappi: lengths ± equaling corollas, bristles plumose. Flowering Jul-Sep. Prairies, limestone outcrops, bluffs, barrens, and glades, marl, sandstone outcrops, dunes, roadsides, sandy pine-oak, wooded northern slopes; 100-400 m; Ont.; Ala., Ark., Ga., Ill., Ind., Iowa, Kans., Ky., Mich., Minn., Mo., N.Y., Ohio, Okla., Tenn., Wis. Stems and leaves of Liatris cylindracea sometimes are hairy (Kentucky, Missouri), perhaps reflecting genetic influence from L. hirsuta. See also discussion under 1. L. compacta.
From Flora of Indiana (1940) by Charles C. Deam
Local in northern Indiana on open sand hills and dunes and near Lake Michigan on dry interdunal flats. It was reported by Schneck as rare in prairies in the Lower Wabash Valley but since the Indiana side of the Wabash River has no real prairies in the territory where Dr. Schneck collected, I believe that his report should go to the Illinois side of the river.
Glabrous or rarely short-hairy, 2-6 dm; lvs ±numerous, firm, linear or nearly so, the lowest small and subsheathing, the next longer, 10-25 cm נ2-12 mm, the rest reduced upward; heads few or even solitary, stiffly pedunculate or sessile; invol 11-20 mm, broadly cylindric or cylindric-campanulate, its bracts firm, appressed or a little loose, generally broadly rounded and shortly mucronate, occasionally more tapering or without the mucro; fls 10-35 per head, the cor-lobes coarsely hairy within; pappus evidently plumose; 2n=20. Dry, open places; w. N.Y. and s. Ont. to s. O., n. Ind., Mich., and Minn., s. to Mo. and irregularly to Tenn. and Ala. July-Sept.
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.