Dense Blazing Star

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Liatris spicata, 1/2-Pint plug

Exposure: Sun-partial

Soil: Wet-medium

Height: 5 feet

Bloom: August

Notable features: The most moisture-tolerant of Liatris species, this blazing star does equally well in sunny, well-drained garden sites. For about three weeks in mid- to late summer, it sports purple wands of stemless, crowded flowers, facing all directions and blossoming from the top of the stem down. Looks best when it's paired with a finely-textured sedge or grass, such as Brown Fox Sedge or Blue Joint Grass.

Attracts: The flowerheads are cross-pollinated by bumblebees, long-horned bees ( Melissodes spp.), leaf-cutting bees (Megachile spp. ), butterflies, and skippers. These insects suck nectar, although some of the bees also collect pollen for their larvae. Two uncommon prairie insects feed on Liatris spp. (blazing stars): caterpillars of Schinia sanguinea (Liatris Flower Moth) feed on the florets and developing seeds, while caterpillars of Carmenta anthracipennis (Liatris Borer Moth) bore through the stems. Mammalian herbivores eat this and other blazing stars readily.