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Common Name: Gayfeather
Liatris spicata is a perennial plant that can grow up to 0.60 metres tall.
It is harvested from the wild for local use as a medicine and source of materials..
Although we have no records of toxicity for this plant, one record says that the leaves contain coumarins. These have an anti-clotting effect on the blood and can prevent natural clotting of the blood when there is a cut[
Eastern N. America - Quebec to Florida, west to Wisconsin, Missouri and Louisiana.
Fields, road banks, fencerows, lake sides, wet to moist prairies and meadows, bogs, seepages, dunes, limestone and granite outcrops, sandy clays, sandy loams and, moist woods, from 50 - 1700m[
Grows well in a moderately good light soil[
]. Requires a moist to wet position[
]. Established plants are very drought tolerant so long as there is plenty of humus in the soil[
]. Prefers a sunny position[
] but succeeds in shade[
Plants are hardy to about -25°c[
The plant has an agreeable odour, due to the presence of coumarins[
A good bee plant[
Rodents are very fond of the tubers so the plants may require some protection[
]. Slugs are fond of the young shoots in spring[
The leaves and root are anodyne, antibacterial, astringent, carminative, diaphoretic, diuretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, stimulant and tonic[
]. The plant is said to be extremely efficacious when used as a local application in the treatment of sore throats and gonorrhoea[
]. It is also used in treating kidney diseases[
]. The leaves are harvested in the summer, the roots in the autumn. Both can be used fresh or dried[
The aromatic leaves and roots are added to pot-pourri[
The leaves and the roots are added to various insect-repellent herbal mixtures[
Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in autumn in a greenhouse[
]. Sow stored seed as soon as possible in the year in a greenhouse. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow the plants on in the greenhouse for their first year. Plant them out into their permanent positions in early summer.
Division in spring[
]. Larger clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the spring.
Basal cuttings taken in spring as growth commences. Harvest the shoots when they are about 10cm long with plenty of underground stem. Pot them up into individual pots and keep them in light shade in a cold frame or greenhouse until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the summer.