Liatris pycnostachya Michx.
Prairie Blazing Star, Kansas Gayfeather, Cat-tail Gayfeather, Hairy Button-snakeroot
Asteraceae (Aster Family)
USDA Symbol: LIPY
The stems of this showy perennial are 2-5 ft. tall, and nearly half of this is the flower spike. A spike of rayless, rose-purple (rarely white), cylindrical, stalkless flower heads densely crowded on a coarse, hairy, very leafy stem. Stamens and styles protrude from the purple, tufted flower heads, creating a fuzzy appearance. Flowers bloom from the top of the spike downward. The lower portion of the stem is covered with short, fuzzy, grass-like leaves.
One of the most popular of the blazing stars, this is sometimes grown as an ornamental. The species name, from the Greek for crowded, describes both the leaves and the flower heads. A species found in dry prairies, Dotted Blazing Star (L. punctata), has leaves covered with resinous dots and long, pointed, flat bracts beneath the flower heads.
From the Image Gallery
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
Flower: Flowers in 8 inch spikes
Size Class: 3-6 ft.
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Pink , Purple
Bloom Time: Aug , Sep , Oct , Nov , Dec
DistributionUSA: AR , IA , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MA , MI , MN , MO , MS , ND , NE , NJ , NY , OH , OK , PA , SD , TX , WI
Native Distribution: WI to SD, s. to LA & e. TX
Native Habitat: Prairies; rocky, open areas; bluffs
Growing ConditionsWater Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry , Moist
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
CaCO3 Tolerance: Low
Drought Tolerance: High
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Moist, well-drained soils. Rocky, Sandy, Sandy Loam, preferably of poor quality.
Conditions Comments: One of the few Liatris species that grows well in very moist soils.
BenefitUse Ornamental: Showy, Wildflower meadow, Pocket prairie, Rock gardens, Perennial garden
Use Wildlife: Butterflies frequent Liatris spp. Nectar-Bees, Nectar-Butterflies, Nectar-insects
Use Other: This blazing star makes an excellent cut flower, blooming in top-down order.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Value to Beneficial InsectsSpecial Value to Native Bees
This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.
PropagationPropagation Material: Seeds
Description: Scarified seeds may be sown outside in late fall or stored, stratified and sown the following spring. These plants produce a large amount of seed so storing the seed in paper bags in the refrigerator after collection and sowing in early spring offers good results as well. When sowing ex-situ, germination usually occurs within 20-25 days. The optimum temperature range is 55-75 degrees F in well drained soil. Barely cover the seed with growing media and reduce soil temperature at night.
Seed Collection: Wait until the flower heads on the entire stalk have turned fluffy tan before collecting. Bring the stalks inside to air-dry then shake or brush the nutlets from the heads. Seeds can be stored with chaff in paper bags or envelopes in the refrigerator.
Seed Treatment: Scarification (lightly nick with knife, use rock tumbler or boiling water) and moist stratification (3 months at 40 degrees).
Commercially Avail: yes
Find Seed or Plants
Order seed of this species from Native American Seed and help support the Wildflower Center.
Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.
View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.
National Wetland Indicator Status
From the National Suppliers DirectoryAccording to the inventory provided by Associate Suppliers, this plant is available at the following locations:
Ohio Prairie Nursery - Hiram, OH
Prairie Nursery - Westfield, WI
From the National Organizations DirectoryAccording to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:
Native Plant Center at Westchester Community College, The - Valhalla, NY
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department - Austin, TX
Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR
BibliographyBibref 1620 - Gardening with Native Plants of the South (Reprint Edition) (2009) Wasowski, S. with A. Wasowski
Bibref 946 - Gardening with Prairie Plants: How to Create Beautiful Native Landscapes (2002) Wasowski, Sally
Bibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.
Bibref 318 - Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region (2002) Wasowski, S. & A. Wasowski
Bibref 291 - Texas Wildscapes: Gardening for Wildlife (1999) Damude, N. & K.C. Bender
* The Midwestern Native Garden: Native Alternatives to Nonnative Flowers and Plants An Illustrated Guide (2011) Adelman, Charlotte and Schwartz, Bernard L.
Search More Titles in Bibliography
Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Liatris pycnostachya in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Liatris pycnostachya in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Liatris pycnostachya
MetadataRecord Modified: 2013-10-25
Research By: TWC Staff