Eurybia spectabilis (Ait.) Nesom

purple wood-aster

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New England Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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North America Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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Facts About

Purple wood-aster has large flower heads up to 2 inches (5cm) in diameter, with bright blue-violet rays. It inhabits sandy soils of open woodlands, roadsides and clearings in southern New England on the coastal plain. The phyllaries (bracts at the base of the flower heads) are strongly spreading and densely glandular, sticky to the touch.

Habitat

Anthropogenic (man-made or disturbed habitats), meadows and fields, woodlands

Characteristics

Habitat
terrestrial
New England state
  • Connecticut
  • Massachusetts
  • Rhode Island
Leaf type
leaves are simple (i.e., lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets)
Leaf arrangement
alternate: there is one leaf per node along the stem
Leaf blade edges
  • the edge of the leaf blade has no teeth or lobes
  • the edge of the leaf blade has teeth
Flower type in flower heads
the flower head has tubular disk flowers in the center and ray flowers, these often strap-shaped, around the periphery
Ray flower color
blue to purple
Tuft or plume on fruit
at least a part of the plume is made up of fine bristles
Spines on plant
the plant has no spines
Leaf blade length
6–160 mm
Disk flower number
  • 21-50
  • more than 50
Show All Characteristics
  • Flowers
    Bases of bract appendages
    NA
    Bract cycle number
    there are three or more cycles of bracts
    Bract margins
    there are fine hairs along the bract margins
    Bract outer side hair type
    • the bracts are hairy on their outer surfaces, with hairs having glands (a swelling at the tip of the hair)
    • the bracts are hairy, with simple hairs on their outer surface
    Bract outer side hairs
    the bracts are hairy on their outer surfaces
    Bract shape
    • the main bracts are elliptic (widest near the middle and tapered towards the base and tip)
    • the main bracts are oblanceolate (widest near the tip, but otherwise narrow and tapering)
    Bract texture
    the bracts have a similar texture to a leaf
    Bract tip orientation
    the tips of the bracts curve outwards and downwards from the plant
    Bract tip shape
    • the tips of the bracts acute (have a sharp point)
    • the tips of the bracts are obtuse (have a blunt point)
    Disk flower color
    • blue to purple
    • green to brown
    • pink to red
    • yellow
    Disk flower lobe number
    5
    Disk flower number
    • 21-50
    • more than 50
    Disk flower reproductive parts
    the disk flower has both pollen- and seed-producing parts
    Disk flower shape
    the disk flower is abruptly widened at some point below the lobes
    Flower head number
    • each flowering stem has four or more flower heads on it
    • each flowering stem has only one to three flower heads on it
    Flower head outer flowers
    at the outer edge of the flower head, each flower has a single enlarged lobe or strap
    Flower head platform
    the base has no bristles or papery scales
    Flower head platform surface
    NA
    Flower head shape
    • the flower head is hemispherical (like the bottom half of a sphere)
    • the flower head is shaped like a cone with the point up
    Flower type in flower heads
    the flower head has tubular disk flowers in the center and ray flowers, these often strap-shaped, around the periphery
    Height of flower head base
    7.5–16 mm
    Inflorescence branching (Solidago)
    NA
    Inflorescence shape
    the inflorescence is flat-topped in profile
    Number of bracts at flower head base
    35–70
    Ovary cross-section
    the ovary has five or more corners in cross-section
    Ovary hair type
    the ovary has hairs on it, but the hairs have no glands
    Ovary hairs
    the ovary has hairs on it
    Ovary lines or ribs
    there are ten or more ribs visible on the ovary
    Ovary profile
    in profile, the ovary is roughly elliptical (widest in the middle, tapering to both ends)
    Peduncle hair type
    • the hairs on the peduncles are simple (not branched), don’t have glands, and are not woolly
    • the hairs on the peduncles have glands at their tips
    Peduncle hairs
    the peduncles are hairy
    Ray flower color
    blue to purple
    Ray flower reproductive parts
    the ray flowers have carpels or stamens, but not both
    Ray flowers
    • 11-15
    • 16-25
    • 26-50
    Ray length
    12–25 mm
    Reproductive system
    some of the flowers on the plant have only carpels or stamens, while others have both carpels and stamens
    Scale tip
    NA
    Width of flower head base
    8–20 mm
  • Fruits or seeds
    Number of pappus parts
    11 or more
    Ovary length in developed fruit
    3–4.2 mm
    Seed hair tuft color
    the pappus hairs are tan to dark brown
    Seed hair tuft details
    the pappus hairs are hooked or barbed
    Seed hair tuft length
    5.3–7.6 mm
    Seed hairs uniform
    all the pappus hairs are approximately the same length
    Seed tuft scale number
    0
    Seed tuft type
    the pappus is made of very fine hairs or bristles
    Top of disk flower ovary
    NA
    Tuft or plume on fruit
    at least a part of the plume is made up of fine bristles
  • Glands or sap
    Leaf blade glands
    the leaf blades have no glandular (translucent) dots or scales
    Ovary glands
    there are no visible glands on the ovary
    Sap
    the sap is clear and watery
  • Growth form
    Growth form
    the plant has one or more free-standing stems
    Plant lifespan
    the plant is perennial, it shows evidence of previous year's leaves, stems or stem bases
    Spines on plant
    the plant has no spines
    Underground organs
    the plant has a rhizome (a horizontal underground stem with roots growing from it)
  • Leaves
    Final leaf segment length (compound lvs only)
    0 mm
    Final leaf segment width (compound lvs only)
    0 mm
    Hairs on underside of leaf blade
    • the underside of the leaf is fuzzy or hairy
    • the underside of the leaf is not hairy, or has very few hairs
    Hairs on upper side of leaf blade
    • the upper side of the leaf is fuzzy or hairy
    • the upper side of the leaf is not hairy, or has very few hairs
    Leaf arrangement
    alternate: there is one leaf per node along the stem
    Leaf blade base
    • the leaf has a distinct petiole
    • the leaf has no petiole
    • the leaf has no petiole and at the base it clasps the stem, or goes all the way around the stem so the stem appears to pierce the leaf
    Leaf blade base shape
    the base of the leaf blade is cuneate (wedge-shaped, tapers to the base with relatively straight, converging edges), or narrow
    Leaf blade bloom
    the underside of the leaf has no noticeable bloom
    Leaf blade edges
    • the edge of the leaf blade has no teeth or lobes
    • the edge of the leaf blade has teeth
    Leaf blade flatness
    the edges of the leaf are curled under
    Leaf blade length
    6–160 mm
    Leaf blade shape
    • the leaf blade is elliptic (widest near the middle and tapering at both ends)
    • the leaf blade is lanceolate (lance-shaped; widest below the middle and tapering at both ends)
    • the leaf blade is linear (very narrow with more or less parallel sides)
    • the leaf blade is oblanceolate (lance-shaped, but with the widest point above the middle of the leaf blade)
    • the leaf blade is oblong (rectangular but with rounded ends)
    • the leaf blade is obovate (egg-shaped, but with the widest point above the middle of the leaf blade)
    • the leaf blade is ovate (widest below the middle and broadly tapering at both ends)
    • the leaf blade is spatulate (spoon-shaped; narrow near the base, then suddenly widening to a rounded tip)
    Leaf blade surface colors
    there is no noticeable color variation on the upper surface of the leaf
    Leaf blade tip
    • the tip of the leaf blade is acute (sharply pointed)
    • the tip of the leaf blade is obtuse (bluntly pointed)
    Leaf blade width
    1–40 mm
    Leaf disposition
    the lower leaves are larger, toothier, and/or on longer stalks than the upper leaves
    Leaf spines
    there are no spines on the leaf edges
    Leaf stalk
    • the leaves have leaf stalks
    • the leaves have no leaf stalks, but attach directly to the stem
    Leaf stalk length
    0–90 mm
    Leaf tip extension
    NA
    Leaf type
    leaves are simple (i.e., lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets)
    Leaflet number
    0
    Specific leaf type
    the leaves are simple (i.e., lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets
  • Place
    Habitat
    terrestrial
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Massachusetts
    • Rhode Island
    Specific habitat
    • man-made or disturbed habitats
    • meadows or fields
    • woodlands
  • Scent
    Plant odor
    the plant does not have much of an odor
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Flowering stem cross-section
    the flowering stem is circular, or with lots of small angles
    Leaves on stem
    there is at least one full leaf above the base of the flowering stem
    Stem bloom
    • the stem has a powdery or waxy film on it that can be rubbed away
    • there is no powdery or waxy film on the stem
    Stem internode hair type
    • at least some of the hairs on the stem have glands
    • the hairs on the stem are plain, without glands or branches, and not tangled
    Stem internode hairs
    • the stem has hairs between the nodes
    • the stem has no hairs between the nodes
    Stem wings
    the stem does not have wings on it

Wetland Status

Not classified

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

Connecticut
present
Maine
absent
Massachusetts
present
New Hampshire
absent
Rhode Island
present
Vermont
absent

Conservation Status

Exact status definitions can vary from state to state. For details, please check with your state.

Connecticut
rare (S-rank: S2), threatened (code: T)
Massachusetts
fairly widespread (S-rank: S4)

Native to North America?

Yes

Synonyms

  • Aster commixtus (Nees) Kuntze
  • Aster spectabilis Ait.
  • Aster spectabilis Ait. var. suffultus Fern.
  • Eurybia commixta Nees

Family

Asteraceae

Genus

Eurybia

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

5.  Eurybia spectabilis (Ait.) Nesom N

purple wood-aster. Aster commixtus (Nees) Kuntze; A. spectabilis Ait.; A. spectabilis Ait. var. suffultus Fern.; Eurybia commixta Nees • CT, MA, RI. Sandy soils of open woodlands, roadsides, fields, and clearings.

2×5. Eurybia macrophylla × Eurybia spectabilis Eurybia ×‌herveyi (Gray) Nesom is an uncommon hybrid typically occurring on the coastal plain of CT, MA, RI. It has basally disposed leaves with elliptic to broad-ovate leaf blades that are contracted to a definite petiole, appressed to slightly squarrose and stipitate-glandular involucral bracts, and purple rays.