Liatris spicata

Liatris spicata dense blazingstar

Plant grows in the wild/spontaneouslyPlant is native to PA

This beautiful native wildflower is a member of the aster family. The plant grows 2-5 feet tall in meadows, marsh edges and prairies. It is found in scattered populations throughout eastern United States, though the plants in the South are probably a different subspecies than those of the North.

The erect stem is usually hairless, but bears numerous but tiny fuzzy, rose-purple flower heads, supported by scaly bracts. Each flower head is about 1/4 inch wide. Each of the disk florets is tubular with a slender style protruding beyond the petals. There are no ray florets. The dense blazing star has relatively few (5-9) florets per head and only has a few long, thin, blunt, sticky and purple flower bracts with purple margins. There is no scent. The flower spike is 6-12 inches tall. Several stalks may rise from a cluster of 12-inch long basal leaves. The blooming period is July to September with the spike blooming from the top towards the bottom.

The stem leaves are linear and alternate and become smaller at the top of the stem. The blazing star tolerates dry soils in sunny locations, but does better in richer soils. It tolerates summer heat and dryness. I have seen this or related species planted as garden flowers. In dense clusters they can be quite attractive.

Alternative common names for this species are marsh blazingstar and prairie gayflower. The blazingstar has become a popular garden plant and corms can be purchased from a number of vendors. They are quite hardy plants and the clumps become larger each year. Native Americans would dig up the corms and store them in the fall to provide nutritious ingredients for a winter meal.

Contributed by: Mark Welchley

Occasional in moist fields, meadows and along roadsides on limestone, diabase, and serpentine.

Mostly found in the southeast and west of the state.

Wetland codes

Flowers from July through early September.

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G-rank:  G5 (Secure)

Liatris spicata dense blazingstar

Plant grows in the wild/spontaneouslyPlant is native to PA
Liatris spicata gallery
Plant Life-Form
perennial forb
Common Names
dense blazingstar blazingstar marsh blazingstar sessile-headed blazingstar gayfeather