• Liatris pycnostachya - Prairie Blazing Star


    "Prairie blazing star is a hardy native perennial forb. Slender, spikelike plant up to 5 feet, with abundant grasslike leaves and usually hairy stems. The lowest leaves can be well over 1 foot long and up to ½ inch wide, with the stem leaves smaller and progressively reduced upward. The flower heads are in a dense spike at the top of the plant. Each small head is about ¼ inch wide, with an overlapping series of bracts that have hairy, outward-curving, pointed tips. There are mostly 5-10 small, 5-lobed, purple disk flowers per head, with 2 prominent threadlike style branches protruding from each flower. Forms of this plant with white flowers occasionally occur among groups of purple flowered plants." (USDA NRCS)

    Liatris Pycnostachya Botany  by Dr. John Hilty

    Prairie blazing star featured on the New York City Highline


    "The preference is full sun and moist to mesic conditions. Established plants can tolerate some drought, but seedlings and transplants are vulnerable. The soil should consist of a rich loam or clay loam, and can contain rocky material. There is a tendency for the lower leaves to turn yellow and wither away if conditions become too dry. During the first year, this plant may develop slowly and prove temperamental, but once established it is easy to maintain. This blazingstar remains reasonably erect, even when spoiled in a flower garden, but may bend around oddly if there is significant obstruction of sunlight." (Hilty)


    "Common in throughout the tallgrass region in seepage areas in upland prairie, moist prairie depressions, and mesic to dry prairies." (USDA NCRS)


    "Prairie blazing star can be used for roadside plantings, prairie restoration, wildlife cover, landscaping, and plant diversity in prairie communities." (USDA NRCS)

    Faunal Associations: 

    "The flowers are pollinated primarily by long-tongued bees, butterflies, and skippers. Other visitors include Halictine bees, bee flies, and day-flying moths. Among the long-tongued bees, are such visitors as honeybees, bumblebees, Little Carpenter bees, Miner bees, and large Leaf-Cutting bees. Butterfly visitors include Monarchs, Swallowtails, Painted Ladies, Sulfurs, Whites, and others. The caterpillars of the rare Schinia gloriosa (Glorious Flower Moth) feed on the flowers and seed capsules. Various mammalian herbivores readily consume Prairie Blazingstar. Younger plants may be eaten by rabbits and groundhogs, while mature plants are likely targets of deer or livestock. Small rodents, such as the Prairie Vole and Meadow Vole, sometimes eat the corms. An overpopulation of these animals can make establishment of this plant difficult in some areas." (Hilty)


    1. "Liatris pycnostachya var. pycnostachya" By Eric Hunt - Own work is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=72300627
    2. "Puchyan Prairie Wisconsin State Natural Area #172 Green Lake County" By Joshua Mayer from Madison, WI, USA - Prairie Blazing Star (Liatris pycnostachya), is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=97350118

    Highline:  "160629 086 High Line - Liatris spicata, Liatris pycnostachya Prairie Blazing Star, Lythrum alatum, Allium obliquum, Eryngium yuccifolium, Quercus macrocarpa" by cultivar413 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

    • Botany sources:
      • John Hilty Botany: John Hilty, "Prairie Blazingstar", Illinois Wildflowers, the publisher, Copyright 2004-2019. Accessed 29 January 2022
      • USDA NRCS Botany: Bruckerhoff, Steven, and Jerry Kaiser. “Prairie Blazingstar.” USDA NRCS, May 2003.

    Information and images compiled by Erik N. Vegeto

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