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U.S. Forest Service

Southern Region Viewing Area


Dense blazing star field. Dense blazing star in full bloom making a magnificent display in mid-July. Photo by Jesse Overcash.

Dense blazing star field. Prescribed fire treatment has created an open prairie-like habitat where the blazing star has thrived. Photo by Jesse Overcash.

Dense Blazing Star Field

Forest: George Washington and Jefferson National Forests

District: Eastern Divide Ranger District

Description: The Eastern Divide Ranger District has been managing an old field for dense blazing star (Liatris spicata) for many years using prescribed fire. This treatment has created an open prairie-like habitat where the blazing star has thrived. During the flowering period, mid- to late-July, the field becomes a breathtaking display of purple wands four to six feet high.

Blazing stars are great attractors of butterflies including: tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus), spicebush swallowtail (Papilio troilus), clouded sulphur (Colias philodice), orange sulphur (Colias eurytheme), gray hairstreak (Strymon melinus humuli), Aphrodite fritillary (Speyeria aphrodite), regal fritillary (Speyeria idalia), painted lady (Vanessa cardui), red admiral (Vanessa Atlanta rubria), monarch (Danaus plexippus), wood nymph (Cercyonis pegala nephele), Peck’s skipper (Polites peckius), tawny-edged skipper (Polites themistocles), northern broken dash (Wallengrenia egeremet), and dun skipper (Euphyes vestris metacomet). Visitors will also find the native grass little bluestem (Schizachryrium scoparium), and black-eyed susan (Rudbeckia hirta).

Safety First: Be prepared for rapid changes in weather as thunderstorms may develop rapidly. Copperhead snakes may occasionally be present so please stay alert. They are not aggressive but they will defend themselves if stepped on or threatened at close range. Just watch the ground as you walk and you should not have any problems. The roadside pull off is narrow on this gravel road so be alert to other traffic. Summer temperatures can be high, 90 to 100 F. Bring plenty of sunscreen and insect repellant (ticks are a definite possibility). Poison ivy is common; remember leaves of three let it be.

Directions: Take US 460 west from I-81 (exit 118C) and go past Blacksburg towards Pearisburg VA. About 3 miles outside Blacksburg take state route 621 (right hand turn). Go approximately 7 miles and on your right will be a field that comes to the road, it has wooden posts and a gate. Park and enjoy the flowers!

Ownership and Management: U.S. Forest Service, George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, Eastern Divide Ranger District.

Closest Town: Blacksburg, Virginia.