Liatris spicata (L.) Willd.
Dense Blazing Star, Dense Gayfeather, Dense Liatris, Marsh Blazing Star, Marsh Gayfeather, Marsh Liatris
Asteraceae (Aster Family)
USDA Symbol: LISP
Dense gayfeather or marsh blazing star is an erect, slender perennial reaching a height of 2-6 ft. The linear, grass-like leaves are clumped toward the base of the plant, but extend up the stem to the showy flower cluster. A tall spike of rayless, rose-purple (sometimes white), closely set flower heads. The purple, tufted flower heads are arranged in a long, dense spike blooming from the top down.
The species name describes the elongated inflorescence, with its crowded, stalkless flower heads. The protruding styles give the flower an overall feathery appearance, hence its alternate name, Dense Gayfeather.
From the Image Gallery
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
Size Notes: Up to about 6 feet tall.
Fruit: Fruit is a cypsela (pl. cypselae). Though technically incorrect, the fruit is often referred to as an achene.
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Purple
Bloom Time: Jul , Aug , Sep , Oct , Nov
DistributionUSA: 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
Canada: ON , QC
Native Distribution: NJ to MI & IL, s. to FL & LA; naturalized northeastward
Native Habitat: Moist, wood openings; mesic prairies; marsh edges
Growing ConditionsWater Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
CaCO3 Tolerance: Low
Soil Description: Moist, average soils.
BenefitUse Wildlife: Butterflies frequent Liatris spp.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Attracts: Birds , Hummingbirds
Value to Beneficial InsectsSpecial Value to Native Bees
Special Value to Bumble Bees
This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.
PropagationDescription: Scarified seeds may be sown outside in late fall or stored, stratified and sown the following spring. Some sources suggest spring seedlings will appear by simply laying the flowering stalk in an outdoor seedbed and covering with 1/2 in. of soil in the fa
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 sealed, refrigerated containers.
Seed Treatment: Scarification (lightly nick with knife) and stratification (3 months at 40 degrees).
Commercially Avail: yes
Find Seed or Plants
View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.
National Wetland Indicator Status
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 Discovery Gardens - Dallas, TX
Delaware Nature Society - Hockessin, DE
Crosby Arboretum - Picayune, MS
Longwood Gardens - Kennett Square, PA
NPSOT - Williamson County Chapter - Georgetown, TX
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE
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 1294 - 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
Web ReferenceWebref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Research LiteratureReslit 102 - Age of maturity and life span in herbaceous, polycarpic perennials (2000) M. H. Bender, J. M. Baskin and C. C. Baskin
Reslit 106 - Native wildflower establishment with imidazolinone herbicides (1999) D. D. Beran, R. E. Gaussoin and R. A. Masters
Reslit 415 - The Role of Temperature and Photoperiod on Liatris-Spicata Shoot Development (1991) I. Espinosa, W. Healy and M. Roh
Reslit 1052 - Germination of Liatris spicata (L.) Willd. seed is enhanced by stratification, benzyladenine, or thiourea but not gibberellic acid (2002) C. A. Parks and T. H. Boyle
Reslit 1224 - Effect of four shading levels on flower stem and corm quality of liatris (Liatris spicata) (2007) F. Schiappacasse, G. Carrasco and F. Carrasco
Reslit 1358 - Regenerating adventitious shoots from in vitro culture of Liatris spicata (L) Willd cotyledons (1996) D. P. Stimart and J. C. Mather
Reslit 1801 - Hot-water treatment of Liatris tubers (1993) Z. Gilad and A. Borochov
Reslit 1898 - Studies with Liatris spicata Willd. 1. Effect of temperature on sprouting, flowering and gibberellin content (1983) N. Zieslin and Z. Geller
Reslit 1899 - Studies with Liatris spicata Willd. 2. Effects of photoperiod on stem extension, flowering and gibberellin content (1983) N. Zieslin and Z. Geller
Reslit 1901 - Floating system production of Liatris spicata (L.) willd (2006) G. Zanin and P. Sambo
This information was provided by the Florida WIldflower Foundation.
Search More Titles in Research Literature
Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Liatris spicata in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Liatris spicata in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Liatris spicata
MetadataRecord Modified: 2022-12-29
Research By: TWC Staff