Liatris graminifolia
Common Name: blazing star
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Asteraceae
Native Range: Eastern United States
Zone: 6 to 9
Height: 1.00 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: August to September
Bloom Description: Lavender-purple
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy, Good Cut
Attracts: Birds, Butterflies
Tolerate: Drought, Erosion, Dry Soil, Shallow-Rocky Soil

Culture

Easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soils in full sun. Tolerates light shade. Will grow taller in fertile loams, but may need staking. May become lanky in shady sites. Prefers dry, sandy or rocky soils. Somewhat tolerant of poor soils. Intolerant of wet soils in winter. Tolerant of summer heat and humidity. May be grown from seed, but may take several years to establish. Plants may self-seed in the garden in open areas.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Liatris graminifolia, commonly known as grass-leaf blazingstar or grass-leaf gayfeather, is a slender upright perennial that typically grows to 12-36” tall in the wild on unbranched stems clad with narrow, grass-like green leaves. Each stem is topped by a spicate terminal inflorescence of sessile to sub-sessile flowerheads from mid-summer to fall, each flowerhead containing 7-12 showy apetulous lavender purple flowers. This liatris is native to open woods, rocky woods, edges of swampy woods, pine barrens, slopes, stream margins, sandy fields, and roadsides from southern Pennsylvania and New Jersey south primarily along the coastal plain to Florida and Alabama.

Each flowering stem is topped from late July to October by a spicate inflorescence (terminal spike) of sessile to sub-sessile flowerheads, each containing 7-12 fluffy apetulous lavender purple flowers. Inflorescences bloom from top to bottom (bisipetally). Flowering stems rise up from basal tufts of narrow-lanceolate, medium to dark green leaves (to 12” long) which often have hairy fringed margins. Leaf length progressively shortens from stem base to inflorescence, with the upper stem leaves being needlelike to only 2-3” long.

Some authorities consider Liatris graminifolia to be a synonym of Liatris pilosa. Pilosa means covered with soft hair in reference to the internally pilose corolla tubes.

Liatris belongs to the aster family, with each flowerhead having only fluffy disk flowers (resembling “blazing stars”) and no ray flowers. The feathery flower heads of liatris give rise to another common name of gayfeather. Flowers are very attractive to butterflies.

Genus name of unknown origin.

Specific epithet from Latin means having leaves resembling those of grass.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems.

Garden Uses

Native plant that is attractive in borders, cottage gardens, prairies, meadows and naturalized areas. Adds vertical accent and late summer to fall bloom.