Symphyotrichum puniceum (L.) . Lve & D. Lve

Glossy-Leaved Aster


CC = 10
CW = -5
MOC = 11

© SRTurner

Family - Asteraceae/Astereae

Habit - Perennial herbs, colonial from long rhizomes.

Stems - Ascending with spreading branches, to 1.7 m, nearly glabrous to pubescent with stout, spreading hairs.

Symphyotrichum_puniceum_stem.jpg Stem.

© SRTurner

Symphyotrichum_puniceum_stem2.jpg Stem and leaf bases.

© SRTurner

Leaves - Basal and lower leaves absent at flowering, sessile or short-petiolate, with blades to 12 cm. Mid and upper stem leaves numerous, sessile, with bases clasping and sheathing the stem. Blades 2-16 cm long, usually narrowly lanceolate, sharply pointed, the margins entire or shallowly toothed, the upper surface glossy and usually glabrous, the undersurface sparsely hairy mostly along the midvein, the secondary veins relatively easily observed, fused into an irregular network, the veinlets also forming a dense, irregular network of relatively short to somewhat elongate areoles.

Symphyotrichum_puniceum_leaf1.jpg Leaf adaxial.

© SRTurner

Symphyotrichum_puniceum_leaf2.jpg Leaf abaxial.

© SRTurner

Inflorescences - Open panicles, sometimes with solitary heads or small clusters at branch tips, the heads appearing mostly short-stalked, the bracts somewhat shorter than the adjacent foliage leaves, 0.5-1.5 cm long, narrowly lanceolate or oblanceolate to linear.

Heads - Mostly 2-4 cm in diameter (including the extended ray corollas) at flowering. Involucre 6-12 mm long, the bracts in 4-6 subequal, overlapping series. Involucral bracts linear to narrowly oblong-oblanceolate, sharply pointed, the tip loosely ascending to somewhat spreading, those of the median and inner series with a progressively shorter, elliptic, green apical area, the outer surface glabrous, the margins usually finely hairy, especially toward the base.

Symphyotrichum_puniceum_involucre.jpg Involucre.

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Symphyotrichum_puniceum_involucre2.jpg Another involucre.

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Symphyotrichum_puniceum_heads.jpg Heads.

© SRTurner

Florets - Ray florets 25-45 in 1 or 2 series, the corollas well developed, 12- 20 mm long, lavender to purple. Disc florets 30-70, the corollas 4.5-6.5 mm long, the slender portion of the tube shorter than the slightly expanded apical portion, the lobes 20-30 percent of the total length of the expanded portion. Pappus bristles 4.5-7.0 mm long, pale cream-colored.

Fruits - 2.0-3.5 mm long, with 4 or 5 longitudinal ribs, purplish brown to brown, glabrous or sparsely hairy.

Symphyotrichum_puniceum_florets.jpg Disk and ray florets.

© SRTurner

Flowering - August - October.

Habitat - Fens, calcareous seeps, wet prairies.

Origin - Native to the U.S.

Lookalikes - S. laeve and other purple-flowered asters.

Other info. - This is one of the more attractive asters in Missouri, but it is relatively uncommon and restricted to certain wet habitats. It is more common in the upper Midwest, the Northeast, and into Canada. In appearance the plant is most like S. laeve, and the two could be confused except that the latter grows in much drier habitats.

The taxononmy and species circumscriptions of Symphyotrichum puniceum are not universally agreed upon. The species has been subdivided into multiple infraspecific forms and even two distinct species. It is likely that Missouri material corresponds to the Symphyotrichum firmum described by Warners and Laughlin (1999), but the complex needs further study.

Photographs taken at Shaw Nature Reserve, Franklin County, MO, 10-4-2012, near Fremont, Newaygo County, MI, 9-13-2015, and near Washington State Park, Washington County, MO, 9-24-2018 (SRTurner).