white heath aster

(Symphyotrichum ericoides var. ericoides)

               
Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

not yet assessed

white heath aster (var. ericoides)

NatureServe

N5 - Secure

SNR - Unranked

Minnesota

not listed

Wetland
Indicator
Status

Great Plains

FACU - Facultative upland

Midwest

FACU - Facultative upland

Northcentral & Northeast

FACU - Facultative upland

Nativity

Native

 
Occurrence

Very common

 
Habitat

Dry to moderate moisture. Prairies, meadows. Full sun.

 
Flowering

August to October

     
Flower Color

White

     
Height

6 to 36

     

Identification

This is a 6 to 36 tall, erect, perennial forb that rises on a single stem from a creeping rhizome. It is usually found in colonies.

The stem is ascending to erect. It is moderately to densely covered with straight, stiff, sharp hairs that are pressed flat against the stem, making the stem rough to the touch. It is sometimes almost hairless toward the base. It is green when young, becoming grayish-brown to brown when the plant matures.

The leaves are of two types. At the base of the plant the leaves are ½ to 2 long, ½ to 1 wide, inversely lance-shaped or spatula-shaped, with the attachment at the narrow end. They are usually untoothed and rough to the touch. They are rounded at the tip and taper gradually to a narrow base where they are attached to the stem without a leaf stalk. The upper surface is usually sparsely hairy but may be hairless. By the time the plant is in flower the basal leaves have withered. The stem leaves are alternate, numerous, untoothed, rigid, and linear to lance-shaped. Near the base they are ½ to 1½ long and up to wide. They become progressively smaller as they ascend the stem.

The inflorescence is a dense cluster of 1 to 200 flower heads near the top of the plant. The flower heads are mostly on one side of curving, widely-spaced branches.

The flower heads are mostly ¼ to ½ in diameter. The whorl of bracts at the base of the flower head (involucre) is narrowly cup-shaped or nearly cylinder-shaped. Each bract in the involucre has a minute, white to yellowish or purplish spine at the tip. There are 8 to 20 (usually 10 to 18) white, to ¼ long ray florets and 6 to 20 (usually 6 to 12) yellow disk florets. The disk florets become brown with age.

The fruit is a tiny seed-like achene with a tuft of whitish, long hairs at the tip.

 
Similar
Species

Hairy white oldfield aster (Symphyotrichum pilosum var. pilosum) flower heads are larger, mostly 9 16 to ¾ or more in diameter. The involucral bracts are not spine-tipped. The ray florets are longer, 3 16 to long.

Manyflowered aster (Symphyotrichum ericoides var. pansum) rises in a dense cluster of stems from a corm-like caudex. The involucre is broadly bell-shaped. Flowering time is slightly earlier, July to September, rarely October. In Minnesota it has been recorded only in Wilkin County.


Distribution Distribution Map  

Sources: 3, 4, 7, 24, 29, 30.


Comments

 


Taxonomy

Family:

Asteraceae (aster)

 

Subfamily:

Asteroideae

 

Supertribe:

Asterodae

 

Tribe:

Astereae (aster)

 

No Rank:

North American clade

 
Parent

white heath aster (Symphyotrichum ericoides)

 
Synonyms

Aster ciliatus

Aster ericoides

Aster ericoides var. prostratus

Aster exiguus

Aster hebecladus

Aster multiflorus

Aster multiflorus var. ciliatus

 

Aster multiflorus var. exiguus

Aster multiflorus var. prostratus

Aster polycephalus

Aster scoparius

Lasallea ericoides

Symphyotrichum ericoides var. prostratum

Virgulus ericoides

 
Common
Names

dense-flower aster

elongate aster

frost aster

heath aster

many-flower aster

many-flowered aster

squarrose white aster

 

tufted white prairie aster

white aster

white heath aster

white prairie aster

white-wreath aster

wreath aster


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

achene

A dry, one-chambered, single-seeded fruit, formed from a single carpel, with the seed attached to the membranous outer layer (wall) only by the seed stalk; the wall, formed entirely from the wall of the superior ovary, does not split open at maturity, but relies on decay or predation to release the contents.

 

caudex

A short, thickened, woody, persistent enlargement of the stem, at or below ground level, used for water storage.

 

corm

A short, solid, vertical, thickened, underground stem that serves as a storage organ.

 

involucre

A whorl of bracts beneath or surrounding a flower or flower cluster.

 

linear

Long, straight, and narrow, with more or less parallel sides, like a blade of grass.

 

rhizome

A horizontal, usually underground stem. It serves as a reproductive structure, producing roots below and shoots above at the nodes.

       

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