Liatris pycnostachya

kansas blazing-star, prairie blazing star, cat-tail gayfeather, kansas gayfeather, prairie blazing star, prairie liatris, kansas liatris, cat-tail blazing star, cat-tail gayfeather, cat-tail liatris, hairy button-snakeroot


Leaf Arrangement

alternate, basal (rosulate)

Leaf Margin


Leaf Type

cauline, simple

Leaf Shape


Growth Form


Flower Color

pink, purple, white

Flower Month

June - November

Height (meters)

0.6 - 1.5

Milky Sap








Growing Season

Warm season

Wetland Class


Prairie Coefficient of Conservatism


Field Characters

One of the largest species of Liatris. May be confused with Liatris spicata but can be distinguished by its foliage which is hairy, while the foliage of Liatris spicata is hairless.

Cultural Information

A tall species that tends to flop over in cultivation. While germination is generally low among members of the genus Liatris, is can be improved by cold/moist stratification at 33-38 degrees F (1-5 C) for 30 days (Shirley 1994, Steffen 1997). Liatris and seedlings are slow-growing sometimes taking 2-3 years to bloom. The seedlings resemble tiny onions and when grown in pots it should be held for one full season before planting out. There are 130,000 to 200,000 seeds/lb and the recommended planting rate is 8-10 lbs/acre. Corms can be divided with a knife when dormant and planted in sharp masons sand or sand/peatmoss mix. Stem cuttings can be taken in late spring when new growth begins to get stiff.

Animal Use

Acceptable as a forage to cattle. Bees, hummingbirds and butterflies use this plant for its rich nectar supply. Birds eat the seeds and rodents eat the corms.

Natural History

Found throughout the tall grass prairie region and the western end of the southern pine belt. It ranges from Texas and Louisiana to South Dakota.


Open sandy areas often around moist bogs, moist or dry prairies and open woods.