Liatris spicata ‘Alba’ (white blazing star). This Asteraceae is native to eastern North America where its natural habitats are wet depression in prairies and sedge meadows. It is a naturally occurring creamy white form of the more common L. spicata with red-purple flowers, both of which are in Lurie Garden.
Blazing star add a strong vertical structure to the garden with a small footprint, with plants often growing to 1.2 m (4 ft) in height and 0.5 m (1.5 ft) wide. Interestingly, finding 1.8 m (6 ft) tall specimens of L. spicata in the wild is not uncommon. Blazing star grows best when planted in free-draining soils and full-sun. Plants grown in rich, heavily fertilized garden soils often become top-heavy during flowering and will require staking. Liatris spicata ‘Alba‘ tolerates drought, clay soils, and summer heat and humidity.
Blazing star can be slow to establish in the garden, but the wait is well rewarded with tall spires of creamy white (L. spicata ‘Alba’) or red-purple (L. spicata) flowers borne from clumping tufts of grass-like leaves. The flowers of blazing star attract a myriad of insects and pollinators–butterflies, hummingbirds, native bees, bumblebees, and honeybees. In the late fall and winter, birds feast on the seed of L. spicata.