Blazing Stars

Blazing Star

There are about 40 species of perennials in this genus, which occurs only in eastern N America. All grow from corms or flattened rootstocks. Liatris spicata (often called L. callilepis in horticulture) is found wild in damp places in rocky woodland, pine barrens, and grassland. It was introduced from N America to Europe in 1732, and has proved enduringly popular, both as a cutflower and as a garden plant for wet ground. Various blazing stars are used locally in N America: L. scariosa and L. squarrosa are interchangeable with L. spicata as diuretics and provide poultices for snake bites; root decoctions of L. punctata are applied as a wash for itching skin complaints; and L. chapmannii contains liatrin, which has anti-cancer properties. Blazing stars are known to contain coumarins, which were banned as flavoring in the USA int eh early 1950s as a possible cause of liver damage and reduced blood clotting. The related Trilisa odoratissima (vanilla leaf, deer's tongue) is especially rich in coumarins, which crystallize on the tongue-shaped leaves.

Siffly upright perennial with linear leaves, to 40cm (16in) long. Bright purple flowers, like miniture thistles, are produced in spikes, 45-70cm (18-28in) long, opening from the top downward, from late summer to autumn.

Common Name:
Blazing Star
Other Names:
Button snakeroot, gay feather
Botanical Name:
Liatris spicata
Eastern USA
Moist to wet soil in an open, sunny position. Dislikes heavy soil. Shoots may be damaged by slugs.
By seed sown when ripe (species); by division in spring.
Leaves are collected during summer, and roots in autumn, and are used fresh in syrups or dried for use in decoctions.
1-1.5m (3-5ft)
45cm (18in)
Has white flowers.
Syn. Goblin

Is dwarf, with deep purple flowers
Height: 40-50cm (16-20in)
Parts Used:
Leaves, roots
A biter, aromatic herb that is tonic and astringent, and has ant-bacterial and diuretic effects.
Medicinal Uses:
Internally for kidney disease and gonorrhea. Externally for sore throat.
Economic Uses:
Leaves and roots are added to insect-repellent mixtures made with herbs as well as to potpourris.
Encylopedia of Herbs by Deni Brown Copyright ©: 1995, 2001 Dorling Kindersley Limited pg 260