Plants for Pollinators: Blazingstar
This post is part of a series highlighting some of the best plants for pollinators from coast-to-coast. Drawing from our books 100 Plants to Feed the Bees, Gardening for Butterflies , and our Monarch Nectar Plant Guides.
Blazing star species are butterfly magnets. When in bloom it’s not unusual to see clusters of monarchs jockeying for position on the purple flower spikes – which is why regionally native blazingstar species have been included on nearly all of our Monarch Nectar Guides. The flowers and foliage will vary from species to species, but blazing star in generally known for its characteristic fluffy purple flower clusters that are borne on tall spikes atop grass-like foliage. In the landscape these plants mix well with native grasses to interesting effect. Blazing star is also well-known amongst florists, but we suggest you leave the blooms in place or plant extra for monarchs!
Just about any blazing star that’s native to your region will be attractive to all manner of pollinators, but L. pilosa, L. scariosa, L. aspera, L. pychnostachya, L. spicata and L. punctata are amongst the species that are recommended as monarch nectar sources on our guide lists. Liatris species are host plants for the flower moths Schinia gloriosa and Schinia sanguinea, both of which feed exclusively on the genus. The plants are of course visited by all manner of bees, hover flies, and other insects as well.
Best for: Providing nectar sources for monarchs and other butterflies.
Native Range: There are roughly 50 species of Liatris native to North America including many cultivars and hybrids. Another common name for the plant is gayfeather.
Profile written by Justin Wheeler, Web and Communications Specialist