Discover nature this week, and keep an eye out for one of Missouri’s showiest native wildflowers blooming along roadsides and in tallgrass prairies.
Prairie blazing star (Liatris pycnostachya) is a purple perennial wildflower. Its tall, unbranched, hairy stalks blossom with spikes of dense purple floret clusters from July to October.
Prairie blazing star grows on glades, prairies, blufftops, savannas, ditches, fencerows, pastures, railroads, and roadsides across the state. Nine species of Liatris grow in Missouri and they often hybridize where they occur in the same area.
Also known as gayfeather or button snakeroot, American Indians and early settlers ate the roots, raw or baked, and used the Liatris species to treat a variety of ailments, including snakebites.
Voles and other herbivorous mammals relish the sweet, thickened rootstocks, while a wide variety of insects visit the flowers, and birds feed on the seeds.
Blazing stars are an important part of the complex community of plants in Missouri’s tallgrass prairie and make an appealing addition to native wildflower gardens.
Learn more about Prairie Blazing Star and Missouri’s other native wildflowers blooming right now with the Missouri Department of Conservation’s (MDC) online field guide, and the Missouri Prairie Foundation’s native plant database.
MDC maintains conservation areas, and natural areas to provide public access to Missouri’s natural resources within a 30-minute drive from most anywhere in the state. Find one of these areas near you, and discover nature on your own at the MDC online atlas.
Discover Nature is sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation.