Symphyotrichum ericoides (L.) Nesom

heath American-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

Heath American-aster is typically found in sandy, open areas, or sometimes on rocky ground near the coast. It occasionally hybridizes with New England American-aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae), but such plants are usually found with both parent taxa nearby, and appear intermediate. While several cultivated varieties of aster are sold under the name 'Aster ericoides,' these plants are not heath American-aster (Symphyotrichum ericoides), but are derived from English garden plants and are cultivars or hybrids of other aster species.

Habitat

Grassland, meadows and fields

Characteristics

Habitat
terrestrial
New England state
  • Connecticut
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
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
white
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
10–60 mm
Disk flower number
  • 11-20
  • 6-10
Show All Characteristics
  • Flowers
    Bases of bract appendages
    NA
    Bract color
    the bracts are not colored or tinged with pink, red or purple
    Bract cycle number
    there are three or more cycles of bracts
    Bract inner side hairs
    • the bracts are hairy on their inner surfaces
    • the bracts are not hairy on their inner surfaces
    Bract keels
    the bracts do not have keels
    Bract margins
    there are fine hairs along the bract margins
    Bract outer side hair type
    • the bracts are hairy, with simple hairs on their outer surface
    • the bracts are not hairy on their outer surface
    Bract outer side hairs
    • the bracts are hairy on their outer surfaces
    • the bracts are not hairy on their outer surfaces
    Bract separation
    the bracts appear completely unconnected to one another on all flower heads
    Bract shape
    the main bracts are oblanceolate (widest near the tip, but otherwise narrow and tapering)
    Bract spines
    there is just one simple spine at the tip of the bract
    Bract texture
    the bracts appear leathery or hardened
    Bract tip color
    the tips are a different color from the center of the bract
    Bract tip extension edge
    there are projections from the bract tips
    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)
    Bracts
    there are at least two distinct forms of bracts in different cycles
    Disk flower color
    • green to brown
    • yellow
    Disk flower lobe number
    5
    Disk flower number
    • 11-20
    • 6-10
    Disk flower reproductive parts
    the disk flower has both pollen- and seed-producing parts
    Disk flower shape
    the disk flower is tube-shaped (cylindrical), or gradually widening like a funnel
    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 position
    some or all the flower heads are grouped in clusters of two or more
    Flower head profile
    • the disk is flat or nearly flat across the top
    • the disk is rounded across the top
    Flower head shape
    the sides of the flower head are roughly parallel, like a cylinder
    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
    2.5–5 mm
    Inflorescence branching (Solidago)
    NA
    Inflorescence shape
    the inflorescence is not flat-topped but appears rounded, with some flower heads distinctly higher than others
    Inflorescence stem
    hairs are present on the stem of the inflorescence
    Ovary beak
    there is no beak on the ovary
    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 seven to nine ribs visible on the ovary
    Ovary profile
    • in profile, the ovary is oblong (roughly rectangular but rounded at the ends)
    • in profile, the ovary is roughly egg-shaped, but widest above the middle
    Ovary surface
    the ovary surface has no points, bumps or wrinkles, though it may have lines, ribs or wings
    Ovary wing number
    0
    Peduncle hairs
    the peduncles are hairy
    Peduncle length
    Up to 20 mm
    Ray flower color
    white
    Ray flower reproductive parts
    the ray flowers have carpels or stamens, but not both
    Ray flowers
    • 11-15
    • 16-25
    • 6-10
    Ray length
    6–20 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
    Smaller bracts at base of bracts
    there is no smaller, outer cycle of bracts
    Style branch number
    the style has two branches
    Style branches
    the style branch is narrow at the tip, or the style branches are narrow at the tips
  • Fruits or seeds
    Ovary beak length
    0 mm
    Ovary length in developed fruit
    1.2–2 mm
    Seed hair tuft bases
    the pappus hairs are not attached to one another near the base
    Seed hair tuft color
    the pappus hairs are white or off-white
    Seed hair tuft details
    the pappus hairs are hooked or barbed
    Seed hair tuft length
    3–4 mm
    Seed hair tuft tips
    the pappus hairs are slender
    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
    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
    Hairs on upper side of leaf blade
    the upper side of the leaf is fuzzy or hairy
    Leaf arrangement
    alternate: there is one leaf per node along the stem
    Leaf blade base
    the leaf has no petiole
    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 length
    10–60 mm
    Leaf blade shape
    • 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 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)
    • the tip of the leaf blade is rounded, with no point
    Leaf blade veins
    • the leaf blade has one main vein running from the base towards the tip
    • the leaf blade has three main veins running from the base towards the tip
    Leaf blade width
    1.5–25 mm
    Leaf disposition
    the leaves are nearly similar in size, prominence of teeth, and length of stalks throughout the stem
    Leaf spines
    there are no spines on the leaf edges
    Leaf stalk
    the leaves have no leaf stalks, but attach directly to the stem
    Leaf stalk length
    0 mm
    Leaf tip extension
    NA
    Leaf tufts in axils
    there are clusters of smaller leaves growing out of axils
    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
    Teeth per side of leaf blade
    0
  • Place
    Habitat
    terrestrial
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Maine
    • Massachusetts
    • New Hampshire
    • Rhode Island
    • Vermont
    Specific habitat
    • grasslands
    • meadows or fields
  • 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
    there is no powdery or waxy film on the stem
    Stem internode hair direction
    the hairs are pressed flat against the plant, pointing either towards the plant's tip or towards it's base
    Stem internode hair type
    the hairs on the stem are plain, without glands or branches, and not tangled
    Stem internode hairs
    the stem has hairs between the nodes
    Stem wings
    the stem does not have wings on it

Wetland Status

Usually occurs in non-wetlands, but occasionally in wetlands. (Wetland indicator code: FACU)

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

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

Conservation Status

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

Massachusetts
unranked (S-rank: SNR)

var. ericoides

Massachusetts
unranked (S-rank: SNR)

Native to North America?

Yes

Sometimes Confused With

Symphyotrichum pilosum:
involucral bracts tapering to a green point, without cilia or with few, soft cilia along the margins (vs. S. ericoides, with involucral bracts terminated by a short, stiff bristle-point and with abundant, stiff cilia along the margins).

Synonyms

  • Aster ericoides L.
  • Aster ericoides L. var. prostratus (Kuntze) Blake
  • Aster multiflorus Ait.
  • Aster multiflorus Ait. var. prostratus Kuntze
  • Lasallea ericoides (L.) Semple & L. Brouillet
  • Virgulus ericoides (L.) Reveal & Keener

Family

Asteraceae

Notes on Subspecies and Varieties in New England

Our variety is Symphyotrichum ericoides (L.) Nesom var. ericoides.

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

8.  Symphyotrichum ericoides (L.) Nesom var. ericoides N

heath American-aster. Aster ericoides L.; A. ericoides L. var. prostratus (Kuntze) Blake; 
 A. multiflorus Ait.; A. multiflorus Ait. var. prostratus Kuntze; Lasallea ericoides (L.) Semple & 
Brouillet; Virgulus ericoides (L.) Reveal & Keener • CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT. Sandy, open areas, 
also sometimes rocky turfs near the coast.

8×14. Symphyotrichum ericoides × Symphyotrichum novae-angliae Symphyotrichum ×‌amethystinum (Nutt.) Nesom is an uncommon American-aster hybrid known from CT, MA, RI, VT. It is normally found growing with both parental species and is intermediate in morphology between them. The involucral bracts do not taper into the long apex found in S. novae-angliae, are sparsely stipitate-glandular, and lack a spine tip (with a spine tip in S. ericoides).