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Liatris pycnostachya Michx.
Prairie Blazing Star, Kansas Gayfeather, Cat-tail Gayfeather, Hairy Button-snakeroot
USDA Symbol: Lipy
USDA Native Status: L48 (N)
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.
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Herb Leaf:
Flowers in 8 inch spikes Fruit: Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Pink , Purple
Bloom Time: Aug , Sep , Oct , Nov , Dec
, WI Native Distribution: WI
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.
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:
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:
National Wetland Indicator Status
This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1
(Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here
for map of regions.
From the National Suppliers Directory
According to the inventory provided by Associate Suppliers, this plant is available at the following locations:
Ohio Prairie Nursery
- Hiram, OHPrairie Nursery
- Westfield, WI
Record Last Modified: 2013-10-25
Research By: TWC Staff