white heath aster

(Symphyotrichum ericoides var. ericoides)

Conservation Status
white heath aster (var. ericoides)
Photo by Robert Briggs
  IUCN Red List

not listed


N5 - Secure

SNR - Unranked


not listed

Wetland Indicator Status
  Great Plains

FACU - Facultative upland


FACU - Facultative upland

  Northcentral & Northeast

FACU - Facultative upland


White heath aster (var. ericoides) 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.




6 to 36


Flower Color




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.


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




August to October


Pests and Diseases






Distribution Map



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








Very common

  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (flowering plants)  
  Superorder Asteranae  


Asterales (sunflowers, bellflowers, fanflowers, and allies)  


Asteraceae (sunflowers, daisies, asters, and allies)  
  Subfamily Asteroideae  
  Supertribe Asterodae  
  Tribe Astereae (asters and allies)  
  Genus Symphyotrichum (American asters)  
  Subgenus Virgulus  
  Species Symphyotrichum ericoides (white heath aster)  

This and other asters were formerly place in the genus Aster. That genus was problematic, in that it did not include just one common ancestor with all of its lineal descendants and no others – it was not monophyletic. In 1994, the genus Symphyotrichum was resurrected to include most North American asters formerly in the genus Aster.


Subordinate Taxa






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













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.



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



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



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



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



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

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Robert Briggs

    white heath aster (var. ericoides)      
MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos
    white heath aster (var. ericoides)   white heath aster (var. ericoides)  
    white heath aster (var. ericoides)      






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  Robert Briggs

Location: Savage Fen SNA

white heath aster (var. ericoides)  
MinnesotaSeasons.com Sightings

Afton State Park

Blaine Preserve SNA

Blazing Star Prairie Addition Preserve, South Unit

Blue Mounds State Park

Cambria WMA

Carver Highlands WMA, South Unit

Charles A. Lindbergh State Park

Chippewa Prairie

Clifton E. French Regional Park

Clinton Prairie SNA

Compass Prairie SNA

Cottonwood River Prairie SNA

Crow-Hassan Park Reserve

Des Moines River SNA

Dodge Nature Center

Felton Prairie SNA, Bicentennial Unit

Foxhome Prairie

Glacial Lakes State Park

Glendalough State Park

Grey Cloud Dunes SNA

Hole-in-the-Mountain Prairie

Hythecker Prairie SNA

Iron Horse Prairie SNA

Jensen Memorial WMA

John Murtaugh Memorial WMA

Joseph A. Tauer Prairie SNA

Kellogg Weaver Dunes SNA, Weaver Dunes Unit

Kettledrummer Prairie

Kilen Woods State Park

Langhei Prairie SNA

Leif Mountain

Margherita Preserve-Audubon Prairie

McKnight Prairie

Miller Prairie, West Unit

Minnesota Valley NWR, Louisville Swamp Unit

Minnesota Valley NWR, Wilkie Unit

Mound Prairie SNA

Mound Spring Prairie SNA, North Unit

Neal WMA

Northern Tallgrass Prairie NWR, Hoffman Unit

Northern Tallgrass Prairie NWR, Pavia Unit

Northern Tallgrass Prairie NWR, Rengstorf Unit

Northern Tallgrass Prairie NWR, Spieker Unit

Oronoco Prairie SNA

Ottawa Bluffs Preserve

Otter Tail Prairie SNA

Pankratz Memorial Prairie, North Unit

Pembina Trail Preserve SNA, Crookston Prairie Unit

Pembina Trail Preserve SNA, Pembina Trail Unit

Plover Prairie, East Unit

Prairie Bush Clover SNA

Prairie Creek WMA, Koester Prairie Unit

Prairie Smoke Dunes SNA

Regal Meadow

Richard M. & Mathilde Rice Elliott SNA

River Bend Nature Center

River Terrace Prairie SNA

Sand Prairie Wildlife Management and Environmental Education Area

Sandpiper Prairie SNA

Santee Prairie SNA

Savage Fen SNA

Schaefer Prairie

Sedan Brook SNA

Seven Sisters Prairie

Sheepberry Fen

Sibley State Park

Split Rock Creek State Park

Staffanson Prairie

Strandness Prairie

Swedes Forest SNA

Thorson Prairie WMA

Tiedemann WMA

Town Hall Prairie

Tribute WMA

Twin Valley Prairie Addition

Twin Valley Prairie SNA

Two Rivers Aspen Prairie Parkland SNA

Tympanuchus Prairie

Vermillion River WMA

Western Prairie SNA

Whitetail Woods Regional Park

Woodbury WMA

Yellow Bank Hills SNA

Zimmerman Prairie





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