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Dense Blazingstar


Common Name Dense Blazingstar

Latin Name: Liatris spicata

[Pronounced: "lye-ATE-ris spik-ATE-a"]

Type of Plant: Prairie Forb ("wildflower")

Identification Helps: When in flower in July and August, dense blazingstar is difficult to miss or mis-identify. The plant is an upright column of lavender flowers, often as long and thick as a baseball bat.. It can attain 6 ft in height. Occasionally, white-flowered forms (L spicata var alba) appear, as shown in the lower photo on the left.

Similar Species: No other Ohio plant looks like dense blazingstar. In the prairies to the west of Ohio, a similar species, prairie blazingstar, Liatris pycnostachya occurs. It is not native to Ohio. In Ohio, there are several smaller, lower blazingstars of great beauty, but lacking the height of dense blazingstar.

The alien march wildflower purple loosestrife, Lythrum salicaria, has long, erect, fingerlike flowerheads of similar color, but smaller than dense blazingstar.

Preferred Growing Conditions in the Wild: Dense blazingstar grows in wet prairie soils. If planted in soils that dry completely throughout the soil column in the last half of the growing season, the species dies out. Where it persists, soils remain moist below the surface year round.

Seasons of Growth and Bloom: The species blooms from July through October.

Natural Distribution in Ohio: Dense blazingstar is found in all Ohio prairie regions.

Description and General Information: Dense blazingstar generally has a single long stem, with narrow lanceolate leaves growing on the lower portion. Flower heads grow closely along the upper stem.

The species is one of the showiest of Ohio prairie plants. A wet prairie with hundreds of dense blazingstars in bloom poking up above lower tallgrasses in late July and early August is a wonderful aspect.

The species is easily grown in prairie restorations and prairie gardens that have sufficient soil moisture.