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Blazing Star Liatris

Updated on February 18, 2015
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Yvonne writes about and photographs flora and fauna of Louisiana, sharing the knowledge she learned through study and personal experience.

Gayfeather, Backache Root, Colic Root

The long, beautiful purplish-pink spikes of the Blazing Star flower are often used in flower arrangements. Who would dream that this gorgeous, showy flower was a native perennial?

There are 22 species of Liatris that grow in the southeastern United States. In Louisiana, the most common and showiest is Liatris pycnostachya. Blazing Star and other Liatris do well in the garden. Most prefer moist soil, like in the pineland savannahs, their native habitat, but they can also endure periods of drought.

This and the other photos on this page (unless otherwise noted) are the property of Y.L. Bordelon (aka naturegirl7) All Rights Reserved.

Liatris Has Many Names

The most used common names, Blazing Star and Gayfeather, refer to the appearance of the flowers. Most of the other common names, including Backache Root, Colic Root and Throatwort refer to its uses in Native American herbal medicine.

The Cherokee used the bulb-like root in a preparation to treat intestinal gas, increase urination and to relieve backache. Practitioners of folk medicine used it to treat sore throats, kidney stones and even gonorrhea. Today, it's use has been discouraged because if not prepared correctly ingesting the root can cause severe gastrointestinal upset and burning.

Bumblebee on Liatris Postcard on Zazzle


Bumblebee on Liatris Postcard by naturegirl7 on Zazzle.

Native pollinators such as the bumblebee as well as butterflies are attracted to the long flower spikes of this perennial plant.

Liatris Bloom


Description and Growing Conditions

Blazing Star, Liatris pycnostachya is a hardy perennial that can grow from 4-6 feet tall. It performs best in full sun in moist to moderately dry soil. Butterflies and other pollinators are attracted to it's beautiful long strands of purplish pink fuzzy blossoms.

Propagate Blazing Star by seed or by the bulb like corms. Seeds should be distributed in fall, after they turn brown. They need a period of cold to germinate. For more detailed information about growing and propagating Liatris visit the NRCS Planting Guide.

Dense Blazing Star, Liatris spicata

Liatris spicata
Liatris spicata

Dense Blazing Star, Liatris spicata is another type of Liatris which is native to Louisiana and the south.

It has similar growing conditions as the other Liatris and will attract butterflies and pollinators to the garden. Some think that the bloom of L. spicata is more beautiful than the others.

Liatris spicata
Liatris spicata

Another great book from Wormsloe Foundation featuring "weeds" of the south. One man's weeds are another man's wildflowers. You'll find many beautiful wildflowers in this colorful and informative book.

Really Cool Liatris Video

Companion Plants

Liatris plants are so beautiful that they are at home among both cultivated and native flowering plants. Some good native companion plants for blazing star include:

  • Mississippi penstemon
  • Curly clematis
  • Joepye weed
  • Goldenrod
  • Swamp sunflower
  • Wild ageratum
  • Cardinal flower
  • Salt cordgrass
  • Sugarcane plume grass

Monarch/Liatris Card on Zazzle


Monarch/Liatris by jengisela on Zazzle

© 2009 Yvonne L B


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