new england aster nwindiana

Family:     Asteraceae (Sunflower family)

Duration:  Perennial

Height:     30 -120 cm (1 to 4 ft)

Blooming: Aug. - Oct.


New England Aster

Symphyotrichum novae-angliae (L.) Nesom

Stem: erect, often branched.  Short, white hairs attached to brownish color often tinged with purplish pink stems.  

Flowers: There are only 50-75 ray flowers (looks like the petals) that are variable in color from pink to deep purple, whitish to reddish rose.  Flower heads are quite large up to 3.8 cm (1.5 in) wide.  The disk flowers (appear to be the center of the flower head) are golden yellow.  One plant can have over twenty gorgeous flower heads. 

Leaves: the leafs are alternately arranged and sessile, hugging the softly hairy stem.  They are 3-nerved, have shallow teeth, and reduce in size as the move up the stem.  They are pubescent (hairy) and are oblong to lance-like in shape.  The bottom of the leaf has little fine hairs and longer hairs on the midvein.  

Fruit: the fruit are smooth and dry seeds that have a soft, fluffy brown, sometimes rose-tipped pappus (tufts of hair) which allow the seed to be dispersed by the wind.

Sun: Full 

Ideal condition: wet soil and full to partial sun. 

New England Aster
new england aster leaves

all photos by Nathanael Pilla

Landscape: a majestic, colorful, late-blooming flower that adds color for quite a long period of time.  This aster, as with many asters, is a food source for many butterflies and moths including, the common checkered-skipper (Pyrgus communis), the American lady butterfly (Vanessa virginiensis), and the red admiral butterfly (Vanessa atalanta).

Plant enthusiast, Eliose Butler said of New England Asters, "[New England Aster] is truly a splendid plant - tall, late-blooming, with prodigal large flowers of many shades of rich blue and pink purple. It often has the striking tone of the ironweed."

Comments: Once called an aster, this beauty was moved to the genus, Symphyotrichum.  It is one of the easier asters to identify with its large flower head, many ray florets (petal like flowers) and clasping leaves.

Etymology: The epithet name novae-angliae is Latin for "New England" because of the spectacular nature of the plant. Symphyotrichum is derived from two Greek words, symphysis which means "growing together" and trichos which just means "hair".