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The tall, dense, purplish-pink flowers of marsh blazing star give interesting structure and texture to beds, borders, native gardens, pollinator gardens, rain gardens, prairies, or meadows from midsummer to early fall. Marsh blazing stars are highly effective at attracting a variety of pollinators. This species is native to the Chicago region according to Swink and Wilhelm’s Plants of the Chicago Region and current research.

  • Family (English) Aster
  • Family (botanic) Asteraceae
  • Tree or plant type Perennial
  • Native locale Chicago area, Illinois, North America
  • Size range Large plant (more than 24 inches)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 3, Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8
  • Soil preference Moist, Sandy soil, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Occasional flooding
  • Season of interest midsummer, late summer, early fall
  • Flower color and fragrance Pink, Purple
  • Shape or form Narrow, Upright
  • Growth rate Moderate
  • Wildlife Hummingbirds, Insect pollinators

Size and method of spreading:

At maturity, marsh blazing stars are between 3 to 6 feet tall and 3 inches to one-and-one-half feet wide. They spread through self-seeding and developing offsets through their underground stem structures (corms).

Native geographic location and habitat: (include C-value if appropriate):

Marsh blazing stars are native to the Eastern and Central United States. C-value: 7.

Attracts birds or pollinators: 

Marsh blazing stars attract bees, songbirds, hummingbirds, butterflies, moths, and skippers.

Leaf description:

Marsh blazing stars have long, narrow, almost grasslike (linear) leaves, approximately 10 inches long and one-third inch wide, that grow around the bottom portion of the central stem. The leaves are numerous and densely crowded, looking almost like whorls, though they are actually in an alternate arrangement. Each leaf has a prominent central vein. The upper and lower surfaces of the leaves can be hairless (glabrous) or have sparse, short hairs (pubescent). The edges of the leaves are smooth (entire margins).

Flower description:

Crowded clusters of purplish-pink flowers develop on the upper end of the central stems of marsh blazing stars, giving the inflorescence the look of a cattail. The clusters will mature downward from the top. The flower heads are stalkless, so they attach directly to the center stem. The flower heads are composed of approximately four to ten individual disk flowers, similar to the centers of daisy flowers, with layers of reddish or green leaflike structures (bracts) that surround the base of the clusters. These disk flowers have petallike structures (corolla tube) that form a star shape (five-lobed). Curly, stringlike structures (long-divided style) protrude from the center of each flower, giving the inflorescence an almost fuzzy appearance. There is a dark reddish-brown tube (connate staminate tubes) around each long-divided style. The bracts surrounding the flower heads are layered and lay flat against the base of the flower heads.

Fruit description:

Marsh blazing stars produce small fruit (achene) comparable to dandelion fruit, which are similarly distributed by the wind. The hairs on the tip of the fruit of marsh blazing stars are short, stiff, and bristly.

Plant Care:

Marsh blazing stars may require staking.

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances:

No major diseases affect marsh blazing star. The major pests are mammalian herbivores such as rabbits and deer. Rodents may dig for the corms.


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