Calico Aster, Fall Aster, Goblet Aster, Starved Aster, Wild Aster
Synonyms of Symphyotrichum lateriflorum (60) (Updated on 12-2-22 from Plants of the World Online): Aster acadiensis Shinners, Aster agrostifolius E.S.Burgess, Aster bellidiflorus var. rigidulus (Nees) DC., Aster bifrons Lindl. ex DC., Aster diffusus Aiton, Aster diffusus var. bifrons (Lindl. ex DC.) A.Gray, Aster diffusus f. bifrons (Lindl. ex DC.) Voss, Aster diffusus var. hirsuticaulis (Lindl. ex DC.) A.Gray, Aster diffusus f. hirsuticaulis (Lindl. ex DC.) Voss, Aster diffusus var. horizontalis (Desf.) A.Gray, Aster diffusus var. variifolius Peck, Aster divaricatus Raf. ex DC., Aster divergens Aiton, Aster divergens var. diffusus (Aiton) Nutt., Aster divergens var. humilior DC., Aster divergens var. pendulus (Aiton) Nutt., Aster hirsuticaulis Lindl. ex DC., Aster horizontalis Desf., Aster lateriflorus (L.) Britton, Aster lateriflorus var. angustifolius Wiegand, Aster lateriflorus var. bifrons (Lindl. ex DC.) Fernald, Aster lateriflorus var. flagellaris Shinners, Aster lateriflorus var. glomerullus E.S.Burgess, Aster lateriflorus var. grandis Porter, Aster lateriflorus var. hirsuticaulis (Lindl. ex DC.) Porter, Aster lateriflorus var. horizontalis Farw., Aster lateriflorus var. indutus Shinners, Aster lateriflorus var. pendulus E.S.Burgess, Aster lateriflorus var. spatelliformis (E.S.Burgess) A.G.Jones, Aster lateriflorus var. tenuipes Wiegand, Aster leucanthemus Raf., Aster miser Nutt., Aster miser var. abbreviatus DC., Aster miser var. diffusus (Aiton) L.C.Beck, Aster miser var. divergens (Aiton) L.C.Beck, Aster miser var. glomerellus Torr. & A.Gray, Aster miser var. hirsuticaulis (Lindl. ex DC.) Torr. & A.Gray, Aster miser var. miserrimus Torr. & A.Gray, Aster miser var. myrtifolius (Willd.) DC., Aster miser var. pendulus (Aiton) L.C.Beck, Aster miser var. vimineus Farw., Aster myrtifolius Willd., Aster pendulus Aiton, Aster recurvatus Günther ex Nees, Aster rigidulus Nees, Aster scoparius Nees, Aster seliger Nees, Aster spatelliformis E.S.Burgess, Aster tenuipes (Wiegand) Shinners, Aster tradescanti Michx., Aster vimineus var. columbianus Britton, Aster vimineus var. dubius Wiegand, Solidago lateriflora L., Symphyotrichum lateriflorum var. angustifolium (Wiegand) G.L.Nesom, Symphyotrichum lateriflorum var. flagellare (Shinners) G.L.Nesom, Symphyotrichum lateriflorum var. hirsuticaule (Lindl. ex DC.) G.L.Nesom, Symphyotrichum lateriflorum var. horizontale (Desf.) G.L.Nesom, Symphyotrichum lateriflorum var. spatelliforme (E.S.Burgess) G.L.Nesom, Symphyotrichum lateriflorum var. tenuipes (Wiegand) G.L.Nesom, Venatris salicifolius Raf.
Symphyotrichum lateriflorum (L.) Á. Löve & D. Löve is the accepted scientific name for this species of Symphyotrichum. It was named and described as such by Áskell Löve and Doris Benta Maria Löve in Taxon in 1982. It was first named and described as Solidago lateriflora by Carl von Linnaeus in the second edition of the first volume of Species Plantarum in 1753.
The genus, Symphyotrichum Nees, was named and described as such by Christian Gottfried Daniel Nees von Esenbeck in Genera et Species Asterearum in 1832.
As of 12-2-22 when tis page was updated, Plants the World Online by Kew lists 97 species in the Symphyotrichum genus. It is a member of the plant family Asteraceae with 1,689 genera. Those numbers could change as updates are made on POWO. The number of genera in this family fluctuates quite often.
The above distribution map for Symphyotrichum lateriflorum is from Plants of the World Online. Areas in green are where the species is native and purple is where it has been introduced. The map for North America above Mexico from the USDA Plants Database is similar and also includes British Columbia in Canada. The subordinate taxa listed on the USDA Plants Database are listed as synonyms on POWO…
The map on iNaturalist shows where members have made observations. Anyone can join and it is a great website to confirm and share your observations. The maps on iNaturalist are continually updated as members post new observations.
THERE ARE SEVERAL LINKS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE FOR FURTHER READING AND TO HELP WITH A BETTER POSITIVE ID. THERE ARE ALSO MORE PHOTOS…
Hello everyone! My first encounter with the Symphyotrichum lateriflorum (Calico Aster) was on October 24 in 2021. We had a late frost, so I was still doing a little wildflower hunting. I decided to go for a walk to the back of the farm and stumbled on this colony of plants growing along the drainage ditch behind the pond. I had identified several Symphyotrichum species on the farm thanks to iNaturalist and Missouri Plants. This one, however, was different, as was another species I found between the other pond and the boundary fence. There are two ponds next to each other. I took as many photos as I could on 10-24 and 10-25. I submitted the observations on iNaturalist and contacted a curator for help. She said she didn’t know much about the Symphyotrichum genus, but she gave me the name of another curator. I contacted him and he was very helpful. Then, when I took more photos in 2022 and uploaded the observations for both species, I contacted him again. SO, the colony between the ponds in the drainage ditch, and MOST of the plants in the colony behind the 2nd pond are definitely Symphyotrichum lateriflorum. The other, which was not near as plentiful, is Symphyotrichum ontarionis (Ontario Aster). I found a third species I hadn’t identified in the main hayfield which turned out to be Symphyotrichum lanceolatum (Tall White Aster). That makes six species on the farm.
White-flowered Symphyotrichum species are very difficult to identify. In fact, for several years I tried to ignore them. However, they are late bloomers and by the time they do, I have pretty much run out of other species to identify. Then, like I said, I found the two new species in 2021, so I had to know… Aster species in general can be difficult, so when you upload observations to websites like iNaturalist, you have to take a lot of detailed photos. Even then, many members ignore controversial species. You have to contact top observers and get them to have a look.
With Symphyotrichum species, you have to take a close look at the flowers. Count the ray petals (ray florets, ray corollas) and look at the color of the disc flowers. Then, look at the involucral bracts (phyllaries) under the flower head. With Symphyotrichum lateriflorum, there will be 8-16 rays (depending on what site you look at) that are usually white. Other species have MORE. The disc florets in the center will be a creamy yellow whereas other similar species will be brighter yellow. These will turn a reddish pink with age and later brown. The involucral bracts are usually appressed, and in 3-4 layers. The bracts of other species are somewhat “inrolled” where the tips of the bracts curl slightly outward. (See photo #852-16 below from 2021).
The leaves of S. lateriflorum grow in an alternate pattern along the stems. The stems are green to reddish brown toward the base. There are small white hairs that grow in longitudinal lines, usually absent toward the base.
The upper half of the stem produces branches that terminate in long panicles of flowers. These branches often lean over and the flowers are usually produced along one side.
The leaves can grow up to 4 1/2-5″ long and are glabrous (hairless) even though they may have a slightly rough feel. The margins of lower leaves have a few teeth, sometimes just a few. The margins of the leaves may have a few hairs, as well as small hairs on the leaf undersides, especially along the veins. The upper leaves are much smaller and usually have smooth margins. Small leaves also appear as “leafy bracts” along the flower stems. The lower leaves usually turn brown and fall off during flowering.
The flower heads are on the small side, usually around 1/3″ or a little wider. Ray petals usually grow in 1-3 series (layers) giving them an overlapping look. As I mentioned previously, there will usually be 8-16 rays. The flower on the left appears to have 17 ray petals, but sometimes I counted 19, while the one on the right has 14.
The Symphyotrichum lateriflorum is a perennial that prefers shadier locations in woodlands. They prefer moist, loamy soil.
One good way to compare different species of Symphyotrichum is to go to the Flora of North America Species Comparison page. You can compare up to four species at a time.
There are a few more photos at the bottom of the page.
I have enjoyed photographing and learning about the many wildflowers growing on the farm and in other areas. The farm I live on is located in Windsor, Missouri in Pettis County (Henry County is across the street and Benton and Johnson aren’t far away). I have grown over 500 different plants and identified over 250 species of wildflowers (most have pages listed on the right side of the page). I am not an expert, botanist, or horticulturalist. I just like growing, photographing, and writing about my experience. I rely on several websites for ID and a few horticulturalists I contact if I cannot figure them out. Wildflowers can be somewhat variable from location to location, so sometimes it gets a bit confusing. If you see I have made an error, please let me know so I can correct what I have written.
I hope you found this page useful and be sure to check the links below for more information. They were written by experts and provide much more information. Some sites may not be up-to-date but they are always a work in progress. If you can, I would appreciate it if you would click on the “Like” below and leave a comment. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. You can also send an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would enjoy hearing from you especially if you notice something is a bit whacky.
FOR FURTHER READING:
PLANTS OF THE WORLD ONLINE (GENUS/SPECIES)
INTERNATIONAL PLANT NAMES INDEX (GENUS/SPECIES)
FLORA OF NORTH AMERICA (GENUS/SPECIES)
WORLD FLORA ONLINE (GENUS/SPECIES)
USDA PLANTS DATABASE
MISSOURI BOTANICAL GARDEN
KANSAS WILDFLOWERS AND GRASSES
NORTH CAROLINA STATE UNIVERSITY
FRIENDS OF THE WILDFLOWER GARDEN
MARYLAND BIODIVERSITY PROJECT
NOTE: The data (figures, maps, accepted names, etc.) may not match on these websites. It depends on when and how they make updates and when their sources make updates. Some websites have hundreds and even many thousands of species to keep up with. Accepted scientific names change periodically and can be hard to keep with. Some of the links may use a name that is a synonym on other sites. In my opinion, Plants of the World Online by Kew is the most reliable and up-to-date plant database and they make updates on a regular basis. I make updates “at least” once a year and when I write new pages or add new photos but I do get behind. We are all a work in progress. 🙂
MORE PHOTOS OF Symphyotrichum lateriflorum:
What about the involucral bracts? Always check them out with members of the family Asteraceae. They can be appressed, recurved, in multiple rows (ETC.) depending on the species, subspecies, or varieties. With Symphyotrchum lateriflorum, they are appressed as in the above photo.
Flowers of S. lateriflorum are very interesting. The disc flowers in the center change color from light yellow, to pink, to brown.