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(Liatris pycnostachya)
Cat-tail Gayfeather

Hosted Species: Wavy-lined Emerald, Liatris Leaf Borer

Nectar Plant: many insects including other butterflies, bees, wasps, and birds such as hummingbirds.  Mammals graze on this plant for food.

Flower Color: lavender, pink or purplish-pink

Growth Habit: herbaceous perennial that grows from 2 to 5 feet tall

Range in North America: Southern, mid-west and northeastern United States

Exposure: Prefers full sun

Hardiness: Zones 3-9

Soil Requirements: moist to medium, well-drained soil

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Cat-tail Gayfeather (Liatris pycnostachya)

Plants of cat-tail gayfeather (Liatris pycnostachya) in a garden.
Plants of Cat-tail Gayfeather in Garden — Daderot, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Alternative Names

Prairie Blazing Star, Cattail Gayfeather, Cattail Blazing Star, Thick-spike Gayfeather, Tall Blazing Star

Hosted Species

Wavy-lined Emerald (Synchlora aerata)

Wavy-lined Emerald (Synchlora aerolata) on fabric.
Wavy-lined Emerald on Fabric — CBG Photography Group, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Nectar Species

Other butterflies, bees, and Wasps use this plant as a nectar source.


This gayfeather grows in open areas such as prairies, open woods, meadows, glades, and rocky bluffs.

Range of Cat-tail Gayfeather (Liatris pycnostachya) in the United States and Canada

Range map of cat-tail gayfeather (Liatris pycnostachya).

Interesting Facts

The genus name, Liatris, is of unknown origin and the species name, pycnostachya, is Greek for an “ear of grain.”

Native Location

Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Wisconsin


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Cat-tail Gayfeather”

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