Liatris microcephala

Common Name: smallhead blazing star 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Asteraceae
Native Range: Southeastern United States
Zone: 6 to 9
Height: 1.50 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 0.75 to 1.00 feet
Bloom Time: July
Bloom Description: Purple
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy, Good Cut
Attracts: Birds, Hummingbirds, Butterflies
Tolerate: Drought, Dry Soil, Shallow-Rocky Soil


Easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soils in full sun. Tolerant of poor soils, drought, summer heat and humidity. Intolerant of wet soils in winter. Winter hardy to USDA Zone 6, so it should be grown in a protected location and given a winter mulch in the St. Louis area.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Liatris microcephala is a small, upright, clump-forming perennial which is native to the southern Appalachian Mountains and which typically grows to only 2' tall. Features terminal spikes of sessile, rounded, fluffy, deep rose-purple flower heads (each to 3/4" across) appearing atop multiple, erect, leafy flower stalks arising from basal tufts of narrow, grass-like leaves. Flowers generally open top to bottom on the spikes. Blooms in summer. The flowers are attractive to hummingbirds, butterflies, and other pollinators, and the small seeds are attractive to songbirds.

Genus name of unknown origin.

Specific epithet means with a small head.

Liatris belongs to the aster family, with each flower head 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.


No serious insect or disease problems.


Rock gardens, perennial border fronts, cutting gardens, wild gardens, native plant gardens or naturalized areas.