Prairie Blazing Star, Liatris pycnostachya
Beginning in late June, the vivid purple flowers of Rough Blazing Star (Liatris aspera) and Prairie Blazing Star (L. pycnostachya) fill the Arboretum prairies with color. Unlike most other plants whose flowers are arranged in spikes, the flowers at the top of the flowering stalk bloom first followed by progressively lower flowers. These plants belong to the Aster family (Asteraceae) and are a favorite source of nectar for Monarch butterflies. Flowers of Prairie Blazing Star have densely packed flowers while the flowers of Rough Blazing Star are less densely arranged on the plant’s flowering stalk. Both species of Blazing Star are common throughout the Arboretum prairies, especially in areas that have been recently burned.