Symphyotrichum turbinellum (Lindl.) G.L. Nesom

Prairie Aster

Symphyotrichum turbinellum plant

Family - Asteraceae

Stem - Spreading to ascending, usually branched, sparsely pubescent with hairs often in lines, usually glabrous toward the base.

Symphyotrichum_turbinellum_stemStem and nodes.

Leaves - Basal and lower stem leaves often absent at flowering. Stem leaves sessile or short petiolate, to 12 cm long and 2 cm wide, narrowly oblanceolate, elliptic, or oblong, tapered at base, margins entire or sparsely toothed, upper surface glabrous and somewhat glossy, undersides glabrous except along midvein. Upper stem leaves reduced, sessile but not clasping.

Symphyotrichum_turbinellum_leafLeaf adaxial.

Symphyotrichum_turbinellum_leaf2Leaf abaxial.

Involucre - Relatively long, to 12 mm, with 6-9 unequal and overlapping series of bracts. Involucral bracts pale with dark green tips, usually rounded at tips, glabrous or sparsely hairy at tips and along margins.

Symphyotrichum_turbinellum_involucreInvolucre.

Heads - 2-3 cm in diameter.

Symphyotrichum_turbinellum_headHead.

Florets - Ray florets 14-20 in a single series, pistillate, with purple ligules 10-16 mm long. Disk florets 15-30, yellow turning reddish-brown after pollination, with expanded apical portion of corolla exceeding unexpanded portion.

Symphyotrichum_turbinellum_floretsFlorets.

Symphyotrichum_turbinellum_head2Flowering heads.

Flowering - August - November.

Habitat - Forest openings, savannas, glades, bluffs. Preference for acidic substrates.

Origin - Native to the U.S. Midwest.

Other info. - This is a relatively easy aster to recognize, with its long involucres and elliptic leaves with tapered bases. The plants also tend to have a branched, open habit. Its relatively large heads argue for more frequent use in gardens and landscaping.
Missouri is at the center of this species' natural range, which is confined to just a few Midwestern states. The common name "prairie aster" is inappropriate, since the plant does not generally grown in prairies.

Photographs taken at Taum Sauk State Park, Iron County, MO, 9-19-2012, and at Shaw Nature Reserve, Franklin County, MO, 10-4-2016 (SRTurner).



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