Symphyotrichum praealtum

Symphyotrichum praealtum veinleaf aster

Plant grows in the wild/spontaneouslyPlant is native to PA

This is another native wildflower that seems to be persisting into the month of October. At first I thought it was the panicled or lance-leaved aster (Symphyotrichum lanceolatum) because of the color of the flowers. Both species have long, thin, willow-like leaves with few teeth if any. Both have composite flowers about the same size (3/4 inch in diameter). Normally the panicled asters are white and the willow asters are light lavender or light blue, but in my experience, the blue of the willow aster is sometimes so faint that they appear white. In a few cases, there is no hint of blue. The key factor in identifying the willow aster is the reticulated veins on the underside of the leaves. Under a hand lens, it appears that the small veins are dividing the leaf into many small irregular sections.

The flower heads of the willow aster also have short stalks that have large leafy bracts. The willow aster grows 3-5 feet tall, though the one below was stunted due to cool weather this late in the season. They grow in meadows, prairies, and thickets from southern Canada to Massachusetts and south to Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland and Virginia. The willow aster normally blooms from August to October.

Contributed by: Mark Welchley

Rare in woods, fields, thickets and along roadsides.

Mostly found in the west.

Wetland codes

S-rank:  S4 (Apparently Secure)
G-rank:  G5 (Secure)