Liatris aspera (Rough Blazing Star)

Plant Info
Also known as: Tall Blazing Star, Gayfeather
Family:Asteraceae (Aster)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, sun; dry prairies, open woods, along roads
Bloom season:July - September
Plant height:1 to 4 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:none
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals Cluster type: round Cluster type: spike

[photo of flowers] Flowers are in a spike-like cluster 6 to 18 inches long of purple to pink flower heads. Each flower head is about 1 inch across and made up of 25 to 40 star-shaped disk flowers with a long stringy divided style emerging from the center. The flower heads may be very short stalked but tend to be stalkless. Flowers bloom from the top of the plant down.

[photo of bracts] The bracts are rounded; the edges fold inward and have jagged edges. The bract color is green or tinged with purple.

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf attachment: basal Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Stem leaves are narrow and blade-like with a prominent central vein and pointed tip, averaging about 3 inches long. Basal and lower stem leaves, which usually wither away by flowering time, are up to 12 inches long, less grass-like in shape and are long stalked, becoming smaller, narrower and stalkless as they ascend the stem. Leaves have a rough texture from short stiff hairs. Attachment is alternate, but can be crowded on the stem so may appear to be whorled. The main stem is ridged and is also rough from short stiff hairs, but may become smooth with age. Stem color is green or purplish

Fruit: Fruit type: seed with plume

[photo of fruit] Fruit is a dry seed with a tuft of light brown hair to carry it off in the wind.


There are 5 species of Blazing Star native to Minnesota and one relatively easy way to tell similar species apart is by the floral bracts. Rough Blazing Star has round bracts with fringed edges that curl or fold in, and its flower heads have little or no stalk. Most similar is Northern Plains Blazing Star (Liatris ligulistylis), which has longer stalked flower heads and has a preference for moister conditions.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Long Lake Regional Park, Ramsey County, and Wild River State Park, Chisago County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Anoka County and at Ordway Prairie, Pope County..


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Marc - Rollag/Hawley (Clay Co.)
on: 2009-08-15 21:21:25

Many specimens blooming on wide-expanse prairie land at this time. (Mid August)

Posted by: Lisa - Nevis (north central)
on: 2009-08-20 13:54:58

I found this flower blooming in the last couple of days along the Heartland Trail. It's really gorgeous, especially up close! I've never noticed it before. There are lots of flowers which look similar from a distance, so I assumed it was one of those.

Posted by: Sara - Traverse County
on: 2011-01-06 09:21:23

I've noticed a nice patch of these blooming in a road ditch just a few miles from Wheaton.

Posted by: Cindy - Harmony Preston Bike Trail77
on: 2013-08-20 16:14:20

We saw the budding stage along the beautiful Harmony Preston Trail on August 16. Will watch it change. Harmony is located in the SE part of MN in Scenic Bluff Country.

Posted by: Paige - Orrock township, Sherburne county
on: 2013-08-25 16:27:04

I have one of these blooming in my large front yard that I decided to let grow wild this year.

Posted by: linda - Hythecker and Shooting Star S & N areas
on: 2015-08-22 09:24:45

Found this plant on the guided tour of 8-8-15 of these areas.

Posted by: Peggy Sannerud - Winona
on: 2016-09-14 21:40:31

I put a patch of this in my front yard along with coneflowers and milkweed, and the monarchs love it. I haven't seen this many on years, and I have caterpillars and chrysalises too. Seems like a good combination.

Posted by: Paul D Nelson - St. Paul
on: 2018-08-19 10:10:29

These were blooming happily in a patch of 20 or so August 18, 2018, on a west-facing hillside at Ottawa Bluffs, a Nature Conservancy site just east of St. Peter. We had an expert with us so we checked the bracts for confirmation.

Posted by: luciearl - Fairview Twp
on: 2018-08-20 13:21:04

Found this for the first time today in sunny, sandy dry location.

Posted by: Gary - Carlton County
on: 2018-10-05 21:34:14

There are several plants of this species along the roadside not far from my house. They have been there since at least 1971 which is when I first saw them.

Posted by: Karl Johnso - Wright Co
on: 2020-09-04 18:35:09

walked in a Three Rivers Park today; rough blazing star patches in the restored prairie areas- covered with hundreds of moarch butterflies

Posted by: Dan Bera - Hines
on: 2022-08-10 20:15:27

found blooming in secluded old prairie segments on Neilson spearhead center trails.

Posted by: Ronald Johannsen - Trenton lake
on: 2023-08-04 18:36:39

Blooming now, monarch having a field day.

Posted by: Thomas Oots - Austin
on: 2024-06-12 19:28:08

Transplanted from a small un-touched area bordering Wild Indigo SNA NE of Austin (maybe 1 acre). Several years of plants and seed are now established on Wolf Creek Wetland Wildlife Area. Original area in decline and not looking good for Liatris aspera.

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