Friday, August 25, 2017

My new favorite plant...Liatris ligulistylis

Liatris ligulistylis

There are probably not more than a dozen (OK, maybe two dozen) showy native Colorado wildflowers that I've not seen "in the chlorophyll" in nature. This may be the most galling of all of them. Each growing season dawns with a vain hope that I'll check them off my life list, and go on to see the last showy plants of Kansas, or Utah or some other state I don't live in. But, NOOOOOO (as John Belushi would moan), I keep not seeing my own states Missing In Action...

Various maps I've consulted show that this occurs  over a surprising swath of Colorado. Some books even call this "Rocky Mountain Blazing Star" (as if L. punctata was some sort of out of state thingy). This plant is probably blooming somewhere in nature to the East, West, North  and South of me...and do I know where? Yes, in a manner of speaking: I've looked up herbarium records...but I suspect many represent sites that have been destroyed or disturbed.

 It's really enormous: and gorgeous. There are a few fantastic specimens blooming right now at Denver Botanic Gardens that actually taunt me as I walk by. They're also growing beautifully at Chatfield (see below) where I first saw them two years ago. Lauren Springer Ogden made sure they were planted in the meadows there--she's the local champion who introduced this and many other species to our local gardens.

I have several places in my garden where a tall honker like this would fit right in...

And look how nicely it looks (and plays) with neighbors, like these Rudbeckias...

Here's a picture I took last year at Chatfield farms--it looks just as good this year, but didn't get it in full bloom there yet..

Another shot at Chatfield. The likeliest spot to see this is probably a Prairie north of Fort Collins where Pat Hayward worked in her incarnation prior to Plant Select. I wonder if she'd take pity on a few of us and take us out there? Hint hint.


  1. It grows quite easily from seed. I have some reseeding in my garden. I don't grow it for the flowers, but for the monarchs. The monarch butterflies literally fight over it.

  2. I love this plant! We just added a few to our wildflower berm this spring, courtesy of La Porte Avenue Nursery. Can't wait to see it in a few years as it matures.

  3. It is tied with L. scariosa (a nearly identical eastern Liatris) for best monarch nectar plant. I get a lot of hummingbirds and tiger swallowtails on it too.


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