Prairie blazing stars are taller than other blazing star species, and these plants can add structure in the backgrounds of beds and borders. They also work well in native and pollinator gardens with well-draining soils and full sun exposure. The plants have purplish-pink blooms from midsummer to late summer. This species is native to the Chicago region according to Swink and Wilhelm’s Plants of the Chicago Region and current research.
Size and method of spreading:
Prairie blazing stars are between 2 to 5 feet tall and 1 to 2 feet wide. They spread by self-seeding and producing offsets through their underground stem structures (corms).
Native geographic location and habitat: (include C-value if appropriate)
Prairie blazing star is native to the Central and parts of the Eastern United States. C- value: 8.
Attracts birds or pollinators:
Prairie blazing stars attract bees, birds, butterflies, day-flying moths, and skippers. Hummingbirds are among the birds that are attracted to this plant.
Prairie blazing stars have long, narrow, almost grasslike (linear) leaves 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).
Crowded clusters of purplish-pink flowers develop on the upper end of the central stems of prairie 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 five 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 tubes) 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 have pointed tips that curl outward (reflexed) and rough edges, as if they were ripped like paper.
Prairie blazing stars produce small barbed fruit (achene) comparable to dandelion fruit, which are similarly distributed by the wind. The hairs on the tip of the fruit of Rocky Mountain blazing stars are short and bristly.
The flower stalks of prairie blazing star may need staking for support.
List of pests, diseases, and tolerances:
Deer, groundhogs, rabbits, and other mammalian herbivores can forage on prairie blazing star plants, making it difficult for the plants to become established. No major insect pests or diseases affect prairie blazing stars.