Amsonia illustris

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: shining blue star 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Apocynaceae
Native Range: Central United States
Zone: 5 to 9
Height: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: May
Bloom Description: Light blue
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Naturalize, Rain Garden
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Good Fall
Attracts: Butterflies
Tolerate: Deer


Easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Prefers moist, loamy soils. Tolerates some drought. When grown in full sun, plants often require no pruning or staking. When grown in some shade and/or in rich soils, however, plants tend to become more open and floppy and often require staking or pruning. For a neater appearance, particularly for shade-grown plants, consider cutting back stems by 1/2 to 1/3 after flowering to promote bushy growth and, if desired, a more rounded foliage mound. Easily grown from seed.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Amsonia illustris, commonly called Ozark bluestar or shining blue star, is a Missouri native perennial that most frequently occurs in sandy or rocky soils on gravel bars or along streams in the Ozark region of the state (Steyermark). This is an erect, clump-forming plant that features terminal, pyramidal clusters of 1/2-inch, star-like, soft light blue flowers in late spring atop erect, leafy stems growing 2-3’ tall. Narrow, willow-shaped, leathery, shiny green leaves (to 6” long) may turn an attractive yellow in fall. Very similar in appearance to Amsonia tabernaemontana, except the leaves of the within species are shinier, thicker and more leathery and the seed pods are pendant.

Genus name honors 18th-century Virginian physician Dr. Charles Amson.

Specific epithet means brilliant or lustrous.


No serious insect or disease problems. Taller plants may require staking, particularly if grown in shade and not pruned after flowering.


Borders, meadows, open shade gardens, native plant gardens, naturalized areas.