Skip Navigation

Species Search:
FieldGuidesthreatened and/or endangered search resultsthreatened and/or endangered

previous  | next

Dense Blazing Star Liatris spicata


enlarge +

Dense Blazing Star
credit: Raffi Kojian/CCSA

All Images


Get Our Newsletters


Advanced Search

Alternate name: Dense Gayfeather, Marsh Blazing Star

Family: Asteraceae, Aster view all from this family

Description Native herbaceous perennial; clump-forming.
Habit: upright, slender, leafy, rigid; single or multiple ridged stalks.
Height: 1-6.5 ft (30-195 cm).
Leaf: thin, arching, concentrated at the base, smaller and fewer above; to 5-14 in (120-350 mm) long, 1/8-1/2 in (2-10 mm) wide.
Flower: tall terminal brush-like spike, 6-12 in (15-30 cm) long; crowded with small, round, shaggy flowerheads, disks with no rays, each to 3/4 in (18 cm) wide, purple to pink to white, held directly on the stem. Upper flowerheads bloom before lower ones.
Fruit: light brown capsule, 1/8-1/4 in (3-6 mm) long.

Flower July to September.

Flower July - September

Habitat Native to moist meadows, prairies, marsh edges; now naturalized in other moist open places, roadsides and disturbed areas.

Range Native to eastern and central North America, from Quebec and Massachusets south to Florida; west to Ontario, Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas and Louisiana. Now widely cultivated for cut flowers and as an ornamental; escaped from cultivation and naturalized in some areas.

Discussion 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 also known as dense gayfeather, florist gayfeather, marsh gayfeather, prairie gayfeather, marsh blazing star.

Exposure Preference Sun.

Native Distribution New Jersey to Michigan & Illinois, s. to Florida & Louisiana; naturalized northeastward

Site Preference Moist, wood openings; mesic prairies; marsh edges

Soil Preference Moist, average soils. pH 5-6.

Wildlife Value Butterflies frequent Liatris spp.