Jan Midgley, a board member of Wild Ones Front Range Chapter, is developing a series of plant profiles for common perennials of the Colorado Front Range. Below is just an excerpt from the first in this series. For a more in-depth dive, head to our website.
By Jan Midgley
In Colorado, Liatris punctata (Dotted blazing star) is a common herbaceous perennial in the Front Range and eastern Plains in open grasslands. The state has only four species in the genus liatris and only two occur in the Front Range. The second species, Liatris ligulistylis is much less common and is found in more moist areas.
It is an excellent host plant for another common Front Range plant, Castilleja integra (Wholeleaf Indian Paintbrush), which is hemi-parasitic.
Liatris punctata is a fairly short liatris, 6 inches – 2.6 feet in height. The spread is 8-12 inches.
Habitat and Elevation
As the wide range would suggest, Liatris punctata, is a common species in many areas of grassland, meadow, and steppe from 3500-8000 feet.
Choosing a site for native plants is the key to success. Liatris punctata is long-lived in full sun with a well-drained soil. It will tolerate some clay as long as it is well drained. Gravel, sand, clay loam, sandy loam and loam are all excellent substrates. This is a prairie plant, and it is not tolerant of acid soils, shade or deep litter. It will tolerate some browsing or mowing.
Once it is established, Dotted Blazing Star should need no supplemental irrigation. It is very drought tolerant due to its deep roots.
Full sun is best.
Seed collection and storage
Seeds shatter easily from the heads from Sept. to Oct. Store the seeds dry at 40˚ or at 70˚ if you lack refrigerator space.
Cuttings from stems of liatris are not successful in my experience. Rhizome cuttings from plants at least 5 years old should produce shoots.
Dotted Blazing Star is an important nectar source for lepidoptera.
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