Prairie Blazing Star, Liatris pycnostachya

Prairie Blazing Star

Liatris pycnostachya

Benefits:
Sun Shade:
Bloom Time: Summer
Zones: 3, 4, 5
Soil Conditions: Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil Moisture: Medium, Moist
Color: Pink, Purple
Fragrance: No
Height: 3 - 5 feet
Spacing: 1 foot


Description

Prairie Blazing Star (Liatris pycnostachya) is perhaps the tallest Liatrisspecies in cultivation, typically growing 2-4 feet tall. It is an upright, clump-forming, perennial which commonly occurs in prairies, open woods, meadows and along railroad tracks and roads. Features rounded, fluffy, deep rose-purple flower heads (each to ¾ inch across) which are crowded into terminal spikes (to 20 inches long) atop thickly-leafed, rigid flower stalks. Stalks arise from basal tufts of narrow, lance-shaped leaves (to 12 inches long). Flowers generally open top to bottom on the spikes. Blooms in summer with each flower head having only fluffy disk flowers (resembling blazing stars" and no rays.

Habitats include moist to mesic black soil prairies, moist meadows near woodlands or rivers, limestone glades, rocky bluffs, and areas along railroads.

Easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soils in full sun. Sometimes treated as a biennial. Established plants can tolerate some drought, but seedlings and transplants are vulnerable. The soil should consist of a rich loam or clay loam, and can contain rocky material. There is a tendency for the lower leaves to turn yellow and wither away if conditions become too dry. During the first year, this plant may develop slowly and prove temperamental, but once established it is easy to maintain. This blazing star remains reasonably erect, even when spoiled in a flower garden, but may bend around oddly if there is significant obstruction of sunlight.

Plant Notes and Herbal Uses
  Flower spikes usually will need staking.
  Younger plants may be eaten by rabbits and groundhogs, while mature plants are likely targets of deer or livestock.
Further Information

Wild Ones of the Fox Valley Area
Prairie Nursery
Wisconsin DNR
Wisconsin Native Plant Nurseries