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Blazing Star Liatris

Updated on February 18, 2015
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Yvonne writes about and photographs the flora and fauna of Louisiana, sharing 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

Blazing Star Bulbs

Liatris spicata purple - 20 flower bulbs
Liatris spicata purple - 20 flower bulbs

The corms produce plants with lovely purple flowers which will bloom in your garden year after year. Blazing star flowers are often used by florists in arrangements.


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.

Blaze off a comment, please

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    • Pat Goltz profile image

      Pat Goltz 5 years ago

      These flowers are so pretty! You don't see them around here. Thank you for sharing.

    • microfarmproject profile image

      microfarmproject 5 years ago

      Gorgeous photos. We don't have these where I live, as far as I know, so I enjoyed reading about them.

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 5 years ago from United States

      Wow! This is really beautiful! I want the Blazing Star Liatris AND the photos :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      What a beautiful plant, don't think I've seen the blazing star before but have seen something similar growing in moister areas in Northern Minnesota.

    • naturegirl7s profile image

      Yvonne L. B. 6 years ago from Covington, LA

      @anonymous: Well, hey! Thanks for the comment,

      Glad you found your way over here. I love liatris, too. It grows wild all through the pine bogs and fields.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Well Hello naturegirl7!

      Very much enjoyed this Lense ~ I love Liatris. Its one of the few plants to flower from the top down.

      I just found Squidoo . . . awesome blogging site. So new that I'm still learning all of the vernacular.

      Great to see you here. Have a wonderful day! :)

      N T T

    • profile image

      AigulErali 6 years ago

      What a beautiful lens!

    • chezchazz profile image

      Chazz 6 years ago from New York

      This lens is a real visual pleasure. Nice design and good content. Blessed by the Perennial Garden neighborhood squidangel and featured on our page of bless-worthy lenses. (you can see it at "Wing-ing it on Squidoo" at

    • naturegirl7s profile image

      Yvonne L. B. 7 years ago from Covington, LA

      @Linda BookLady: Liatris will grow in prairies. Their native range is mostly in the east, but all the way up to Canada. The western most state where they are native (on most types) is Colorado, but if you have the right conditions, they should grow. Check out the USDA Plants Database ( ) for native plant photos, descriptions and distribution maps.

    • Linda BookLady profile image

      Linda Jo Martin 7 years ago from Post Falls, Idaho, USA

      They're beautiful! I wonder if they'd grow here in Northern California.

    • profile image

      Obscure_Treasures 7 years ago

      Wow! A lot of research went into this. Great ideas and flower :)

    • Airinka profile image

      Airinka 7 years ago

      So beautiful pictures!

    • Heather426 profile image

      Heather Burns 8 years ago from Wexford, Ireland

      Gorgeous flower, gorgeous lens! 5*

    • Dianne Loomos profile image

      Dianne Loomos 8 years ago

      Love working with liatris in floral designs

    • groovyfind profile image

      Samantha Devereux 8 years ago from Columbia Mo

      Stunning flowers, I don't think I've seen those before.

    • seashell2 profile image

      seashell2 8 years ago

      Beautiful lens... I love nature and flower lenses! :-)

    • capriliz lm profile image

      capriliz lm 8 years ago

      Lovely lens! And the template is perfect for your wildflower collection.