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Spike Gayfeather Liatris spicata

Phonetic Spelling
LY-uh-tris spi-KAY-tuh
Description

Marsh Blazing Star, in the 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. 

It prefers average to moist well-drained sandy loam soil with some organic matter in full sun to partial shade.  It tolerates summer heat and humidity and 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 when planted in mass in a pollinator garden, rain garden, perennial borders, native plant gardens, or a cottage garden.

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

More information on Liatris.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Pollinator and Culinary Garden
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Alba'
    White flowers
  • 'Kobold'
  • ‘Kobold Strain’
Tags:
#bees#heat tolerant#perennial#white flowers#perennial bulb#wildlife plant#purple flowers#pink flowers#showy#yellow flowers#cut flowers#low maintenance#cottage garden#mass planting#dried flowers#specialized bees#herb garden#ncemgva2018#food source#cpp#fire#medium flammability#NC native#summer flowers#prairie#native garden#pollinator plant#native wildflower#wildflower garden#fantz#poor soils tolerant#food source fall#NC Native Pollinator Plant#late summer flowers#food source nectar#food source pollen#coastal FAC#Piedmont Mountains FAC#humidity tolerant#food source hard-mast fruit#butterfly friendly#HS302#audubon
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Alba'
    White flowers
  • 'Kobold'
  • ‘Kobold Strain’
Tags:
#bees#heat tolerant#perennial#white flowers#perennial bulb#wildlife plant#purple flowers#pink flowers#showy#yellow flowers#cut flowers#low maintenance#cottage garden#mass planting#dried flowers#specialized bees#herb garden#ncemgva2018#food source#cpp#fire#medium flammability#NC native#summer flowers#prairie#native garden#pollinator plant#native wildflower#wildflower garden#fantz#poor soils tolerant#food source fall#NC Native Pollinator Plant#late summer flowers#food source nectar#food source pollen#coastal FAC#Piedmont Mountains FAC#humidity tolerant#food source hard-mast fruit#butterfly friendly#HS302#audubon
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Liatris
    Species:
    spicata
    Family:
    Asteraceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Roots used medicinally by Native Americans
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Central to Eastern United States and Eastern Canada
    Distribution:
    AL , AR , CT , DC , DE , FL , GA , IL , IN , KY , LA , MA , MD , MI , MO , MS , NC , NJ , NY , OH , PA , SC , TN , VA , WI , WV
    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: 3 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
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Clumping
    Erect
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    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:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Occasionally Wet
    Available Space To Plant:
    Less than 12 inches
    12 inches-3 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    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 Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Achenes with stiff light brown bristles in fall.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Pink
    Purple/Lavender
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Spike
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Good Cut
    Good Dried
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Tubular
    Flower Petals:
    7 - 20 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    6-12 inch long flower spikes are densely packed with stemless flowers in purple, pink or white that bloom from the top down. Individual flowers contain 4 to 10 disks florets (no ray florets), are 1/3- 1/2 inch across with an exserted style. Blooms mid-summer.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Linear
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    The basal clump of alternate, narrow deep green leaves with a strong central vein are up to 12 inches long and 1/3 inch wide. Leaves grow smaller as they ascend the flower stalk. They are glabrous to sparsely hairy. Margins are entire.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Purple/Lavender
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Cross Section:
    Round
    Stem Surface:
    Smooth (glabrous)
    Stem Description:
    Green to purplish stem is round and smooth to slightly pubescent.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Meadow
    Naturalized Area
    Patio
    Pond
    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
    Hummingbirds
    Moths
    Songbirds
    Specialized Bees
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Heat
    Humidity
    Poor Soil