Symphyotrichum laeve (Smooth Aster)

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Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913. An illustrated flora of the northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 vols. Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York. Vol. 3: 420. Provided by Kentucky Native Plant Society. Scanned by Omnitek Inc.

Where Commonly Found:  Meadows, fields,  woodlands, CT, MA, ME,  NH, NY, RI, VT.
How to Identify:
(For unfamiliar words: Wikipedia Glossary of Botanical Terms).
Go Botany Key for Symphyotrichum laeve.
Missouri Botanical Garden’s description of Symphyotrichum laeve.  Click on more images.
Flower Type:  1/2″ – 1″ flowerheads of light lavender to light blue-violet ray florets, 15 – 30 rays around a dense head of disk florets.  The corollas of the disk florets are tubular, 1/8″- 1/4″ long and 5-lobed along the rim.  At the base of the flowerhead are glabrous floral bracts, mostly light green or light blusih green with dark green markings at the tips or a single dark green vertical vein.
Flower Time:  September to October
Leaf Arrangement:  Alternate leaves along the entire length of light green to light blue, glabrous and often glaucous stems.  The stems are sometimes narrowly furrowed, usually unbranched, with some branching higher up.
Leaf Type:  Oblong-ovate, oblong-obovate, lanceolate or ovate  in shape with entire (toothless) to sometimes bluntly toothed.  Upper leaf surface is medium green to grayish green, glabrous and sometimes glaucous.  Lower leaf surface is light green to light grayish blue, and likwise glabrous and sometimes glaucous.
Height: 2′ – 4′
Seed Collection:  Florets are replaced by achenes, generally less than 1/8″, oblongoid-oblanceoloid, slightly flattened and or variable coloring, often gray or brown with whitish fine ribs with.  Each achenes has tufts of light brown hairs that aid in wind distribution.  Seeds are ripe when they separate easily from the seed head.

Attracts:  Bees and Butterflies
Use:  Naturalizing
Light:  Full Sun
Hardiness Zone:   3 to 8   USDA Zone Map
Soils:  Dry to Moist
Notes:  Symphyotrichum laeve, Smooth Aster, is a popular native Aster providing purple flowers with distinctly yellow center on unbranched stems, attracting a plethora of butterflies.  Noted as deer-resistant by Wild Seed Project.
Native to almost all of the US (rare in southern VT):  Biota of North America Program (BONAP) – North American Plant Atlas (NAPA).

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