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Spike Gayfeather Liatris spicata

Description

Liatris spicata, in the daisy or aster family, is a clump-forming perennial that typically grows 5 to 6 feet tall.  In the wild, some specimens have grown up to 6'.  It is native to the eastern United States and is most often found in moist areas like marshes, bogs, or growing in meadows.   It was brought over to Europe and popularized as a cut flower and perennial, and after it caught on in Europe it returned to popularity in the USA.  It prefers average well-drained sandy loam soil with some organic matter in full sun with some partial shade.  It does tolerate summer heat and humidity and this particular species does better in moist soils than some other Liatris. 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 when planted in mass in a pollinator garden, rain garden, a perennial borders, native plant gardens, or cottage garden.

Fire Risk: This plant has a medium flammability rating. 

Seasons of Interest: 

  Blooms: Summer, Late summer             Nut/Fruit/Seed:  Fall

Insects, Diseases, or Other Plant Problems: Sometimes taller stems can flop over and may require staking.

More information on Liatris.

Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Alba'
    White flowers
  • 'Kobold'
Tags:
#bees#butterflies#heat tolerant#white flowers#herbs#perennial bulb#wildlife plant#purple flowers#pink flowers#wildflowers#showy#yellow flowers#cut flowers#low maintenance#cottage garden#mass planting#dried flowers#specialized bees#ncemgva2018#food source#cpp#fire#medium flammability#NC native#summer flowers#high humidity#prairie#native garden#perennials#pollinator plant#native wildflower#fantz#poor soils tolerant#NC Native Pollinator Plant#late summer flowers
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Alba'
    White flowers
  • 'Kobold'
Tags:
#bees#butterflies#heat tolerant#white flowers#herbs#perennial bulb#wildlife plant#purple flowers#pink flowers#wildflowers#showy#yellow flowers#cut flowers#low maintenance#cottage garden#mass planting#dried flowers#specialized bees#ncemgva2018#food source#cpp#fire#medium flammability#NC native#summer flowers#high humidity#prairie#native garden#perennials#pollinator plant#native wildflower#fantz#poor soils tolerant#NC Native Pollinator Plant#late summer flowers
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Liatris
    Species:
    spicata
    Family:
    Asteraceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Midwest to Eastern United States and Eastern Canada
    Fire Risk Rating:
    medium flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    Its flowers are attractive to butterflies, bees, and other pollinators. Larval forms of Schinia sanguinea (Liatris Flower Moth) feed on the flowers and seeds, and the larval form of Carmenta anthracipennis (Liatris Borer Moth) eat the stems. Goldfinches eat the seeds with relish.
    Play Value:
    Wildlife Food Source
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    This plant is moderately resistant to damage from deer.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 5 ft. 0 in. - 6 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 0 ft. 3 in. - 1 ft. 6 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Bulb
    Herb
    Native Plant
    Perennial
    Wildflower
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Clumping
    Erect
    Maintenance:
    Low
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    Less than 12 inches
    12 inches-3 feet
    NC Region:
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    Usda Plant Hardiness Zone:
    3a, 3b, 4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Achene
    Fruit Description:
    Achenes with stiff light brown bristles
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Pink
    Purple/Lavender
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Head
    Spike
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Good Cut
    Good Dried
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Summer
    Flower Petals:
    7 - 20 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Mid to late summer showy spikes (6-12" long) of sessile, rounded, fluffy, deep purple to pink or white flower heads (3/4" across) appear against the stalk. They form in all directions on the stem and bloom from the top of the spike to the bottom. Flowers contain 4 to 10 disks florets (no ray florets) per head and are born as elongated receptacles encircled by scale-like bracts.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Rosulate
    Whorled
    Leaf Shape:
    Linear
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    Starts as a basal group of grass-like clump of narrow deep green leaves that grow smaller toward the top of the stalk with a strong central vein up to 12" long and 1/3" wide glabrous to sparsely hairy. Stalks that are green to purple-green grow up from the center and leaves get smaller toward the top. The leaves are alternate and linear with a smooth margin.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Purple/Lavender
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Meadow
    Naturalized Area
    Patio
    Recreational Play Area
    Small Space
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Cottage Garden
    Native Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Rain Garden
    Rock Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Mass Planting
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Butterflies
    Moths
    Songbirds
    Specialized Bees
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Drought
    Heat
    Humidity
    Poor Soil