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Liatris spicata

Common Name(s):
Blazing Stars, Dense blazing star, Gay Feather, Marsh blazing star, Snakeroot, Spike gayfeather
'Kobold', Alba
Herbs, Native Plants, Perennial Bulbs, Perennials, Wildflowers

Liatris spicata, commonly called blazing star, dense blazing star or marsh blazing star, is a tall, upright, clump-forming perennial which is native to moist low grounds, meadows and marsh margins. It typically grows 2-4' tall in cultivation, but can reach a height of 6' in some parts of its native habitat. 

Liatris belongs to the aster family, with each flower head having only fluffy disk flowers (resembling "blazing stars") and no ray flowers. The feathery flower heads of liatris give rise to another common name of gayfeather.

It is a beautiful American wildflower which was brought to Europe, popularized as a cut flower and perennial, and then returned to popularity in the USA.

Beautiful when planted in mass in perennial borders, native plant gardens, cottage gardens, and prairie areas.

Regions:  Mountain, Piedmont

Seasons of Interest: 

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

Wildlife Value: This plant is moderately resistant to damage from deer. Its flowers are attractive to butterflies and other pollinators. Goldfinches eat the seeds with relish.   

Insects, Diseases, or Other Plant Problems: Taller plants may require staking or other support.

summer to fall
Full sunlight to PM only or AM only sunlight
1.5-3 ft.
Flowering Period:
Flower Color:
Blue, White
5 in.
Beds, rock gardens, and fresh cut flowers.
USDA Hardiness Zone 3-9
Blazing star has one or more stalks arising from a basal tuft of narrow, grass-like, medium green leaves (to 12" long). The stem leaves gradually decrease in size toward the top. The leaves are alternate and linear with a smooth margin.
Blazing star features terminal spikes (6-12" long) of sessile, rounded, fluffy, deep purple or white flower heads (each to 3/4" across) appearing atop rigid, erect, leafy flower stalks. The flowers occur in tight clusters with 7 to 10 petals per head. The flowers often lack a stem. Liatris is unusual in flowering from the top to the bottom of the spike.
Herbaceous perennial
Blazing star is easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soils in full sun. It is somewhat tolerant of poor soils, but prefers moist, fertile ones and generally performs better in moist soils than most other species of Liatris. It is intolerant of wet soils in winter but is tolerant of summer heat and humidity. It may be grown from seed, but is slow to establish.
division of tuberous roots in spring, seed
full sun to light shade
Mountains, Piedmont, Coastal Plain
Eastern USA, North Carolina
cpp, ncemgva2018, low maintenance, drought tolerant, good cut, good dried, rain garden, butterflies, showy

NCCES plant id: 734

Liatris spicata Liatris spicata
Liatris spicata Liatris spicata
Liatris spicata Liatris spicata
Liatris spicata Liatris spicata
Liatris spicata Female widow skimmer on blazing star.
Debbie Roos
Liatris spicata Liatris spicata
Hedwig Storch, CC-BY-SA-3.0
Liatris spicata Liatris spicata bloom spike
Debbie Roos
Liatris spicata Alba Liatris spicata Alba bloom detail
Debbie Roos