Liatris scariosa var. nieuwlandii
Common Name: eastern blazingstar
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Asteraceae
Native Range: Northeastern North America
Zone: 3 to 8
Height: 2.00 to 5.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: August to October
Bloom Description: Pink flowers
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy, Good Cut
Attracts: Birds, Hummingbirds, Butterflies
Tolerate: Drought, Erosion, Dry Soil, Shallow-Rocky Soil

Culture

Easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soils in full sun. Somewhat tolerant of poor soils. Prefers dry, sandy or rocky soils. Will grow taller in fertile loams, but may need staking. 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.

Var. nieuwlandii adapts better to part shade growing conditions and areas with disturbed soils than species plants.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Liatris scariosa, commonly called blazing star, is an upright, clump-forming perennial that typically grows to 2-4’ tall in the wild. It is native from Maine to Wisconsin south to Mississippi and Georgia. In Missouri, it is uncommonly found in rocky woods, rocky slopes, prairies, and gravel areas along streams (Steyermark). Fluffy, thistle-like, reddish-purple flower heads (to 1” across) bloom in late summer to early fall on terminal columnar inflorescences (to 18” long) atop erect, leafy flower stems. Inflorescences are of the button type (individual flower heads are spaced along the stem on short stalks). Inflorescences bloom from top to bottom. Flowering stems rise up from basal tufts of rough, narrow, ovate to lanceolate, green leaves (to 10” long). Stem leaves (to 3” long) are much smaller. 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. Flowers are very attractive to butterflies.

Var. nieuwlandii, commonly called savanna blazing star or Nieuwland’s blazing star, is a variety that is uncommonly found throughout much of its range which extends from New York to Wisconsin south to Arkansas, Ohio, and West Virginia. In the Midwest, it is often found in savannas (hence the common name), prairies, woodland margins or open forested areas. In comparison to the species, var. nieuwlandii grows slightly taller (to 5’), has slightly larger flowers, a greater number of florets per flower head, slightly longer peduncles and generally is more tolerant of part shade growing conditions. It has a long bloom period of late July to October. Inflorescence is a narrow raceme (to 24” long) typically containing 9-20 (sometimes more) flower heads, with each head containing 30-80 showy pink disk florets (no rays). Disk flowers give way to achenes.

Genus name of unknown origin.

Specific epithet means shrivelled.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems.

Garden Uses

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