Liatris

Liatris commonly called Blazing-star, Gay-feather or Button snakeroot is a genus of ornamental plants in the Eupatorieae tribe of the Asteraceae family, native to North America. An unusual feature is that the flowers open from the top of the flower spike downwards.


Liatris ligulistylis (A.Nelson) K.Schum., Rocky Mountain or Meadow Blazing Star, is a widespread species occurring from southern Manitoba down to northern New Mexico. Its inflorescence features 5 to 20, each 2-3 cm wide flower heads on individual peduncles up to 5 cm long, giving it a rather loose and open appearance compared to the more commonly cultivated Liatris spicata. It prefers moderately moist to moist sites as it naturally inhabits prairies, meadows and stream banks. It is said to be a butterfly magnet in its home territory. The pictures show a plant grown from seed by Martin Bohnet, which flowered in its third year. Photo 3 shows the pubescent lower side of the leaves, about 1.5 months before flowering, Photo 4 shows a ripe seedhead.

Liatris ligulistylis, Martin BohnetLiatris ligulistylis, Martin BohnetLiatris ligulistylis, Martin BohnetLiatris ligulistylis, Seedhead, Martin Bohnet


Liatris spicata is a widely cultivated herbaceous hardy perennial, typically available in white and purple. Corms bought in winter will flower in late summer. More information about it can be found here. Although a member of Asteraceae, the flowers are not classic daisies as they have no ray florets. However, comparing photos 5 and 6 with those of the details of a more daisy like flower such as Dahlia reveals that what might appear to be wispy petals are extra large styles. Pictures by David Pilling.

Liatris spicata, David PillingLiatris spicata, David PillingLiatris spicata, David PillingLiatris spicata, David PillingLiatris spicata 16th August 2013, David PillingLiatris spicata 16th August 2013, David Pilling

Photo 1 shows corms as bought from a supermarket in early April; the coin is around 1 inch in diameter. Photo 2 confirms the description given at EOL: "The leaves are linear in shape and their margins are smooth (entire). Each leaf has a distinct central vein. Both the upper and lower leaf surfaces are light to medium green and glabrous to sparsely hairy." Photos 3 and 4 show the details of an individual floret. Photos 5 and 6 are of ripening seed.

Liatris spicata corms, David PillingLiatris spicata leaf rib, David PillingLiatris spicata 22nd August 2013, David PillingLiatris spicata 22nd August 2013, David PillingLiatris spicata 5th October 2013, David PillingLiatris spicata 1st November 2013, David Pilling

Seed photo.

Liatris spicata seed 6th November 2013, David Pilling


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Page last modified on October 03, 2017, at 12:09 AM