Plant Profile: Liatris gracilis Slender gayfeather

Figure 1. Liatris gracilis from Lake Louisa State Park, Florida.
Photo credit: D. Partwyka.
This post is one of a series from Botany professor Nisse Goldberg's students at Jacksonville University. Student authors: Kristine Brown, Kristina Robbins, and Marc Rothe

Liatris gracilis, also known by the names slender blazing star and slender gayfeather, is a perennial herb. The specific epithet ‘gracilis’ means slender in Latin and refers to its single stem. This plant is native to the southeastern coastal region of North America, and is found in almost every county of Florida. The gayfeather is typically found in habitats such as flatwoods, sand hills, scrub, and deciduous woodlands, and especially where there is plenty of sunlight and well-drained soils. Liatris gracilis is incredibly tolerant of drought and also can survive in moist soils so long as those conditions do not persist for too long a period. It can be grown from seed and from the underground stems or corms.

Liatris gracilis is a moderately tall plant. The slender gayfeather usually grows to be 20-100 cm in height and is covered by fine hairs. The bud stalks or pedicels branch off of the single stem and each pedicel supports one flower. The flowers are small and purple and look like little stars (Figure 1).

Because of its striking appearance, Liatris gracilis is extremely popular to use in bouquets and floral arrangements. The slender gayfeather also produces nectar to attract butterflies, and for this reason they are common in butterfly gardens. Why not try growing one too?

Please visit this site for vendors of the gayfeather:


"Performance of Native Florida Plants under North Florida." . N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Nov 2011. .

"Slender Gayfeather." . N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Nov 2011. .

Liatris gracilis Slender Blazing Star. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Nov 2011. Blazing-Star.html .


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