Dear Dr. Hill,
You did such a great job on my last mystery plant, I remembered I had one from last August. If you would be kind enough to take a look for me. Francis Marion Nat’l Forest, SC, Berkeley County. As you can see from the pine needles in the photo, it’s not very big. Maybe an inch in diameter, and just a few inches tall.
Your plant appears to be Liatris squarrosa, scaly gayfeather. It matches the images here very well:
Your photo is of the flower cluster, undoubtedly on a much larger plant. I doubt very much the entire plant was only a few inches tall…
I hope this helps.
Steve Hill SCNPS
Dr. Steven Hill
University of Illinois