Plant of the Week: Threadleaf Bluestar

Threadleaf bluestar (Amsonia hubrichtii) with American lady butterfly. Photo by Steven Severinghaus An American lady butterfly dines on Amsonia hubrichtii, the threadleaf bluestar, at West 18th Street. Photo by Steven Severinghaus

The High Line’s planting design is inspired by the self-seeded landscape that grew up between rail tracks after the trains stopped running in the 1980s. Today, the High Line includes more than 300 species of perennials, grasses, shrubs, and trees – each chosen for their hardiness, adaptability, diversity, and seasonal variation in color and texture. Some of the species that originally grew on the High Line’s rail bed are reflected in the park landscape today.

This week we share one of our gardeners’ current favorites with you.

EnlargeThreadleaf bluestar bloom alongside the rolling lounge chairs of the Diller – von Furstenberg Sundeck. Photo by Oliver Rich

Amsonia hubrichtii, the threadleaf bluestar, grows along most of the High Line and has become one of the key plants in the park for good reason. One of High Line planting designer Piet Oudolf's criteria for choosing plants for his designs is that they have interesting shape and form throughout the seasons, and this amsonia is truly beautiful throughout its lifecycle. The first grassy green stems that emerge in spring grow into finely textured mounds of feathery foliage, and in May the stems are topped with dozens of clusters of silvery-blue star-shaped flowers. In summer the plants grow to three feet tall and three feet wide, and while the seed heads are not persistent, the foliage turns to a stunning bright gold in autumn. When threadleaf bluestar goes dormant, its stems remain fairly upright, so its “skeleton” holds a structural presence among the grasses in the High Line’s winter landscape.

Amsonia hubrichtii was described and named for the first time in 1942, when self-taught naturalist Leslie Hubricht found it growing wild in the Ouachita Mountains of central Arkansas. Hubricht, who completed only one semester of high school, was a world authority on terrestrial mollusks of eastern North America. He discovered 81 kinds of snails as well as three plant species – all three of which are named for him. Among them, threadleaf bluestar is certainly the best addition to native and naturalistic gardens for its grace, hardiness, and persistent beauty.

Amsonia hubrichtii can be found blooming now on the High Line between Gansevoort and West 15th Streets, between West 18th and West 20th Streets and between West 28th and West 30th Streets.

Download our May Bloom Guide.

Our horticultural team counts on members and friends like you to help keep the High Line beautiful and thriving. Join our community of supporters who play an essential role in the High Line’s most important gardening projects – become a member of Friends of the High Line today!

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