Symphyotrichum lanceolatum (Willd.) Nesom

lance-leaved 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

Lance-leaved American-aster is a highly variable taxon that is divided into two subspecies and several varieties. Three varieties occur in New England, all of Symphyotrichum lanceolatum ssp. lanceolatum: one (var. lanceolatum) is common and found in all New England states; another (var. latifolium) is less common but widespread; and the third (var. interior) is very rare in New England, found only in Vermont.

Habitat

Anthropogenic (man-made or disturbed habitats), meadows and fields, swamps, wetland margins (edges of wetlands)

Characteristics

Habitat
  • terrestrial
  • wetlands
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
  • blue to purple
  • 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
80–150 mm
Disk flower number
  • 11-20
  • 21-50
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 not hairy on their inner surfaces
    Bract keels
    the bracts do not have keels
    Bract margins
    • there are few or no fine hairs along the bract margins
    • there are fine hairs along the bract margins
    Bract outer side hair type
    the bracts are not hairy on their outer surface
    Bract outer side hairs
    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
    the bracts have no spines
    Bract texture
    the bracts have a similar texture to a leaf
    Bract tip color
    the tips are a different color from the center of the bract
    Bract tip extension appearance
    NA
    Bract tip extension edge
    there are no projections from the bract tips
    Bract tip orientation
    the bracts are pressed against the plant, or spreading out at the tips
    Bract tip shape
    • the tips of the bracts acute (have a sharp point)
    • the tips of the bracts are acuminate (tapered to a narrow point)
    Bract width
    0.3–0.7
    Bracts
    the bracts in separate cycles are similar or gradually changing from the outer to inner cycles
    Disk flower color
    • pink to red
    • yellow
    Disk flower lobe number
    5
    Disk flower number
    • 11-20
    • 21-50
    Disk flower proportions
    • 31-45%
    • 46-75%
    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 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 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
    3–6 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 attachment
    the ovary is attached at or near the base
    Ovary beak
    there is no beak on the ovary
    Ovary cross-section
    the ovary is compressed (flattened)
    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 four to six lines or ribs visible on the ovary
    • there are three lines or ribs visible on the ovary
    Ovary profile
    • in profile, the ovary is lanceolate (widest below the middle, tapering to both ends)
    • in profile, the ovary is roughly elliptical (widest in the middle, tapering to both ends)
    Ovary surface
    the ovary surface has no points, bumps or wrinkles, though it may have lines, ribs or wings
    Ovary wing number
    0
    Peduncle hair type
    the hairs on the peduncles are simple (not branched), don’t have glands, and are not woolly
    Peduncle hairs
    the peduncles are hairy
    Ray flower color
    • blue to purple
    • white
    Ray flower reproductive parts
    the ray flowers have carpels or stamens, but not both
    Ray flowers
    • 16-25
    • 26-50
    Ray length
    3.2–12 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
    Width of flower head base
    7–10 mm
  • Fruits or seeds
    Ovary beak length
    0 mm
    Ovary length in developed fruit
    0.5–1.8 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
    2.7–5.3 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
    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 biennial, it appears as either first year (non-reproductive) plants or second year plants with flowers or fruit
    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 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 hairs
    • NA
    • the leaf blade has simple hairs with no glands, and not tangled or wooly
    Leaf blade length
    80–150 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)
    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 acuminate (tapers to a long, thin point)
    • the tip of the leaf blade is acute (sharply pointed)
    Leaf blade veins
    the leaf blade has one main vein running from the base towards the tip
    Leaf blade width
    3–35 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 leaf stalks
    • the leaves have no leaf stalks, but attach directly to the stem
    Leaf stalk length
    At least 0 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
    Teeth per side of leaf blade
    At least 0
  • Place
    Habitat
    • terrestrial
    • wetlands
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Maine
    • Massachusetts
    • New Hampshire
    • Rhode Island
    • Vermont
    Specific habitat
    • edges of wetlands
    • man-made or disturbed habitats
    • meadows or fields
    • swamps
  • 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 direction
    the hairs point mostly upwards to outwards
    Stem internode hair type
    • the hairs on the stem are plain, without glands or branches, and not tangled
    • the stem has no hairs between the nodes
    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

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

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)

ssp. lanceolatus

Massachusetts
unranked (S-rank: SNR)

var. interior

Vermont
unrankable (S-rank: SU)

var. lanceolatus

Massachusetts
unranked (S-rank: SNR)

var. latifolius

Massachusetts
unranked (S-rank: SNR)

Native to North America?

Yes

Sometimes Confused With

Symphyotrichum racemosum:
series of involucral bracts mostly 2.5-3.5 mm tall (vs. S. lanceolatum, with series of involucral bracts 4-6 mm long).

Synonyms

  • Aster lanceolatus Willd.
  • Aster lanceolatus Willd. ssp. simplex (Willd.) A.G. Jones
  • Aster lanceolatus Willd. var. simplex (Willd.) A.G. Jones
  • Aster paniculatus Lam. var. simplex (Willd.) Burgess
  • Aster simplex Willd.
  • Aster simplex Willd. var. ramosissimus (Torr. & Gray) Cronq.
  • Symphyotrichum simplex (Willd.) A. & D. Löve

Family

Asteraceae

Notes on Subspecies and Varieties in New England

Symphyotrichum lanceolatum ssp. lanceolatum var. lanceolatum is the most common form, known from CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT.S. lanceolatum ssp. lanceolatum var. interior (Wieg.) Nesom is known from VT, and is of regional conservation concern.S. lanceolatum ssp. lanceolatum var. latifolium (Semple & Chmielewski) Nesom is known from CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT.

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

11.  Symphyotrichum lanceolatum (Willd.) Nesom ssp. lanceolatum NC

lance-leaved American-aster.  11a. Aster interior Wieg.; A. lanceolatus Willd. ssp. interior (Wieg.) A.G. Jones; A. lanceolatus Willd. var. interior (Wieg.) Semple & Chmielewski; A. simplex Willd. var. interior (Wieg.) Cronq.;  11b. Aster lanceolatus Willd.; A. lanceolatus Willd. ssp. simplex (Willd.) A.G. Jones; A. lanceolatus Willd. var. simplex (Willd.) A.G. Jones; A. paniculatus Lam. var. simplex (Willd.) Burgess; A. simplex Willd.; A. simplex Willd. var. ramosissimus (Torr. & Gray) Cronq.; Symphyotrichum simplex (Willd.) A. & D. Löve;  11c. Aster lanceolatus Willd. var. latifolius Semple & Chmielewski • CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT; common. Wet-mesic to hydric fields, wetland edges, open swamps, ditches.

1a.  Involucres usually less than 4 mm tall; capitula crowded on the branches 
 … 11a. S. lanceolatum ssp. lanceolatum var. interior (Wieg.) Nesom

1b.  Involucres 4–6 mm tall; capitula more remote

2a.  Leaf blades linear to oblanceolate, mostly 3–12 mm wide, often exceeding 12 times as long as wide, reduced in the capitulescence; rays white to pale violet 
 … 11b. S. lanceolatum ssp. lanceolatum var. lanceolatum

2b.  Leaf blades broadly oblanceolate, mostly 10–35 mm wide, rarely exceeding 11 times as long as wide, only somewhat reduced in the capitulescence; rays white 
 … 11c. S. lanceolatum ssp. lanceolatum var. latifolium (Semple & Chmielewski) Nesom

Variety interior is known from VT; also reported from New Hampshire by Kartesz (1999), but specimens are unknown. It is of regional conservation concern. Variety lanceolatum is known from CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT. It is the most common variety of this species in New England. Variety latifolium is known from CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT.