Native to North America (cultivar)
FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Liatris spicata ‘Kobold’ is a free flowering compact gayfeather cultivar. The stems are covered in attractive long narrow leaves. In summer foliage is topped by rosy-purple spiky flowers and surrounded by a bevy of butterflies. Plants prosper in sunny sites with moist well drained soil.
HABITAT & HARDINESS: The parent Liatris spicata occurs in Ontario and Quebec, from Massachusetts to Florida and west to Wisconsin and Louisiana. The species is indigenous to moist prairies, Blackland prairies, edges of bogs and marshes, calcareous seeps, moist alkaline sandflats and sunny moist rights-of-way.
The ‘Kobold’ cultivar is small and compact averaging 18-30” tall. Plants produce multiple sturdy erect stems. In summer, earlier than the norm, wide and dense rosy-lilac spiky inflorescences appear. This is a floriferous cultivar of uncertain origin. The name ‘Kobold’ means “goblin” perhaps due to the big-headed flowers. This is generally a seed grown cultivar with some variations in height, flower size and bloom time. Growers have selected the most desirably compact seedlings that attain a height around 14”. These seedlings are then propagated by vegetative methods and sold as ‘Kobold Original’.
This cultivar is hardy from USDA Zones 3-8.
PLANT DESCRIPTION: Liatris spicata ‘Kobold’ is a clumping perennial that produces multiple green rigid leafy stems. The upright stalks originate from rounded woody underground corms.
Foliage is long, narrow and grass-like. The largest basal leaves are less than 1/2” wide and about 5” long. Blades become progressively smaller as the stalks rise.
Foliage is topped by fat wand-like inflorescences composed of many orchid colored disc florets.
The floral display commences in early summer and lasts for 3-4 weeks. Flower heads mature into soft tufts of fluffy golden brown achenes.
Plants average 24-30” tall with a 12” spread.
CULTURAL & MAINTENANCE NEEDS: Liatris spicata ‘Kobold’ flourishes in sunny sites with moist humus rich sandy loams.
Plants tolerate heavier loams, clay, gravelly or calcareous soils. They also prosper in heat, humidity and drought.
Rabbits, deer and livestock nibble the foliage and stems. The corms are a favored food of meadow voles or prairie voles. A large population of these rodents can decimate a stand of this lovely cultivar.
LANDSCAPE USES: This species adapts easily to sunny gardens with average soil. Plants are used most often to inject a strong vertical Accent or as Groupings or Mass plantings for Wildlife Gardens, Containers or Perennial Borders. Liatris spicata ‘Kobold’ has Showy Blooms that serve as long lasting Cut Flowers. Plants are appropriate for Butterfly Gardens, Cottage Gardens, Water-wise Landscapes, Low Maintenance Plantings and Meadow Gardens.
COMPANION & UNDERSTUDY PLANTS: Try pairing Liatris spicata ‘Kobold’ with Andropogon gerardii, Anemone canadensis, Aster novae-angliae, Echinacea purpurea, Eupatorium hyssopifolium, Helenium autumnale or Heliopsis helianthoides.
If a taller plant with height variation is acceptable, Liatris spicata could be a suitable replacement.
TRIVIA: Liatris spicata ’Kobold’ attracts beneficial bees, skippers, butterflies, hummingbird moths and hummingbirds.
The typical daisy-like flowers of the Aster Family consist of a cluster of disc florets surrounded by a ring of petal-like ray florets. Liatris spp. has only disc florets and no ray florets so the spiky inflorescence has a bottlebrush appearance.
Blooming of all Liatris spp. begins at the top of the flower stalk and progresses downward