Liatris pycnostachya

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: prairie blazing star 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Asteraceae
Native Range: Central and southeastern United States
Zone: 3 to 9
Height: 2.00 to 5.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: July to August
Bloom Description: Lilac-purple
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Rain Garden
Flower: Showy, Good Cut
Attracts: Birds, Hummingbirds, Butterflies
Tolerate: Drought, Clay Soil, Dry 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. Sometimes treated as a biennial.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Liatris pycnostachya, commonly called prairie blazing star, is perhaps the tallest Liatris species in cultivation, typically growing 2-4' tall (infrequently to 5'). It is an upright, clump-forming, Missouri native perennial which commonly occurs in prairies, open woods, meadows and along railroad tracks and roads. Features rounded, fluffy, deep rose-purple flower heads (each to 3/4" across) which are crowded into terminal spikes (to 20" long) atop thickly-leafed, rigid flower stalks. Stalks arise from basal tufts of narrow, lance-shaped leaves (to 12" long). 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. This species is distinguished from other Liatris species by its reflexed, long-tipped involucral bracts.

Genus name of unknown origin.

Specific epithet means crowded in Greek, in probable reference to the arrangement of both flower heads and leaves.

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. Flower spikes usually will need staking.


Perennial borders, cutting gardens, wild gardens, native plant gardens, naturalized areas, prairies or meadows. Some consider this species almost too tall (and somewhat unmanageable) for the border.