• Liatris spicata - Blazing Star


    "Marsh blazing star, in the Asteraceae (daisy or aster) family, is a clump-forming perennial that typically grows 3 to 6 feet tall. It is native to the eastern United States and is most often found in moist areas or growing in meadows. In NC it is found in the coastal and Piedmont areas. The tall spikes of flowers bloom from the top down, are showy and attract pollinators. The foliage is grass-like and grows in clumps. 

    "This low-maintenance plant prefers average to moist, well-drained soils that range from acidic to neutral in pH. It grows well in full sun to partial shade and also tolerates summer heat and humidity. This particular species does better in moist soils than some other blazing stars. The plant has corms with shallow fibrous roots and can produce new colonies from its corms, though it most often propagates by seed.

    "It is very attractive in mass plantings in a pollinator garden, rain garden, perennial border, native plant garden, or a cottage garden."  (North Carolina Extension)

    Liatris Spicata Botany by Dr. John Hilty

    Aster family (Asteraceae)


    John Torrey's illustration of Liatris spicata (1843)

    Liatris spicata corm. A corm is a storage organ that perennial plants—like Blazing Star—use to survive extreme conditions such as winter and drought. (Bff)


    "The preference is full sun, moist conditions, and sandy loam. Other soil types, such as loam and gravelly loam, are readily tolerated in cultivation. The soil should possess sufficient organic material to retain moisture. The height of this plant can vary considerably, depending on its maturity, soil moisture, and soil fertility. During hot dry weather, the lower leaves may wither away, otherwise this plant presents few problems." (Hilty)

    Faunal Associations:

    "The flowerheads are cross-pollinated by bumblebees, long-horned bees (Melissodes spp.), leaf-cutting bees (Megachile spp.), butterflies, and skippers. These insects suck nectar, although some of the bees also collect pollen for their larvae. Two uncommon prairie insects feed on Liatris spp. (blazingstars): caterpillars of Schinia sanguinea (Liatris Flower Moth) feed on the florets and developing seeds, while caterpillars of Carmenta anthracipennis (Liatris Borer Moth) bore through the stems. Mammalian herbivores eat this and other blazingstars readily; groundhogs and rabbits favor younger plants, while deer and livestock are more likely to browse on mature plants. The corms are eaten by the Prairie Vole and Meadow Vole. An overpopulation of these animals can make the establishment of this plant difficult in some areas." (Hilty)

    Goldenrod Soldier Beetles (Chauliognathus pensylvanicus) feed on the pollen and nectar of Liatris species. (Hardyplants)

    Various butterflies and skippers feed on the nectar of liatris species. Here is a female monarch butterfly feeding on Rough Blazing Star (Liatris aspera). (USFWS)

    This is a honeybee gathering nectar from a Liatris blossom, but many other kinds of bees will do the same, including "bumblebees, long-horned bees (Melissodes spp.), leaf-cutting bees (Megachile spp.)" (Text: Hilty, Photo: Peterson)

    The American goldfinch (Spinus tristis) enjoys feeding on the seeds of plants like Liatris. They are known for their habit of using their feet and "hanging" from seedheads like the long inflorescence of the Blazing Star.  (Houghton)


    1.  "Liatris spicata" By I, MJJR, CC BY 2.5
    2. "Liatris spicata var. spicata" By Hedwig Storch - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0
    3. "Liatra kłosowa (Liatris spicata)" By Salicyna - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, 


    Faunal Associations

    CC BY 2.0

    Type: Herbaceous perennial
    Family: Asteraceae
    Native Range: Eastern United States
    Zone: 3 to 8
    Height: 2.00 to 4.00 feet
    Spread: 0.75 to 1.50 feet
    Bloom Time: July to August
    Bloom Description: Red-purple
    Sun: Full sun
    Water: Medium
    Maintenance: Low
    Suggested Use: Rain Garden
    Flower: Showy, Good Cut, Good Dried
    Attracts: Birds, Butterflies
    Tolerate: Drought, Clay Soil

    Information and images compiled by Erik N. Vegeto

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