Scaly Blazing Star

Scaly blazing star is native wildflower that grows naturally in barrens, prairie remnants, and other hot, dry areas. It can also be grown in garden settings. Photo credit: Mason Brock, public domain

Scaly blazing star (Liatris squarrosa) is native to much of the U.S. and is one of approximately 10 species of blazing stars that are native to Kentucky. It grows naturally in sunny, open areas with thin, rocky or sandy soils. Scaly blazing star tends to be shorter than many other species of blazing star which can make this species especially appealing for garden settings if the proper soil conditions are met. (Think more rock garden and less rain garden.)

Blazing stars are in the aster family, and like all members of the aster family, the flowers bloom in clusters. Scaly blazing star is one of the earliest blooming blazing stars and in Kentucky tends to bloom in July and August. The clusters of purple flowers bloom on a stalk with the flower clusters at the top of the stalk blooming first and lower flower clusters blooming later. Like all blazing stars, scaly blazing star flowers are highly attractive to bumble bees and many species of butterflies.

The leaves of scaly blazing star are grass-like and are eaten by a variety of mammals such as deer, rabbits, goats, horses, and cattle. If scaly blazing star likes the area where it is located, then it will spread both by seeds and by woody corms. However, the corms will rot if they are too wet for too long. This plant is much better suited for droughts than for wetter conditions.

This article was part of Shannon’s original Kentucky Pollinators and Backyard Wildlife blog which evolved into the blog for Backyard Ecology.

Backyard Ecology: Exploring Nature in Your Backyard
Nature isn’t just “out there.” It’s all around us, including right outside our doors. Hi, my name is Shannon Trimboli, and I am the host of Backyard Ecology. I live in southcentral Kentucky and am a wildlife biologist, educator, author, beekeeper, and owner of a nursery specializing in plants for pollinators and wildlife conservation. I invite you to join me as we ignite our curiosity and natural wonder, explore our yards and communities, and improve our local pollinator and wildlife habitat. Learn more or subscribe to my email list at

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