Little Blue Asters

lorilee

Sumner, United States

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As soon as the asters begin to bloom, you know autumn is not far behind.
Image taken in the woods at Echo Valley Park in northeast Iowa. USA

Smooth Blue Aster
Aster family (Asteraceae)

Description: This native perennial plant is 1½-3’ tall. It forms a central stem, with a few flowering side stems in the upper half. The alternate leaves are up to 4" long and 1½" wide, and either green, bluish green, or greyish green. They are broadly lanceolate to narrowly ovate, and usually clasp the stem, although smaller leaves are sessile. Their margins are smooth or slightly serrate. Both the stems and leaves are hairless, or nearly so.

The flowering stems produce panicles of numerous daisy-like compound flowers that are individually about ½-1¼" across. Each compound flower has about 15-30 lavender or light blue-violet ray florets surrounding numerous yellow disk florets, which turn reddish yellow as they age. There is no noticeable floral scent. The blooming period occurs during late summer or early fall, and lasts about 3-4 weeks. During the fall, the achenes develop with small tufts of light brown hair – they are dispersed by the wind. The root system is coarsely fibrous, and has reddish rhizomes with an anise scent. Older plants may develop a branched caudex. Loose colonies of plants may form vegetatively through the rhizomes.

Range & Habitat: Smooth Blue Aster habitats include mesic black soil prairies, loess hill prairies, savannas, openings in upland forests and sandy forests, woodland edges, thickets, limestone glades, and roadside embankments.

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