Aster simplex

SUNFLOWER FAMILY  (asteraceae)

This native perennial grows from an underground stem (rhizome). One or more stout stems, some up to 7 feet tall, hold lance-shaped leaves (D). These are variable in size and shape, but smaller near the top. The flower heads, in clusters (panicles), have numerous white ray florets surrounding a yellow, sometimes lavender central disk (A,B,C). The seeds are released in early winter (E). Asters are among the most difficult wildflower species to identify in the field. They are highly variable and sub-species complicate identification. Several other aster species may be found in our two nature centers. But they are not included in this guide because they can only be identified by experts after careful study under a microscope. Furthermore, the body of knowledge about Great Plains asters is still evolving, leaving room for differences of opinion among some of the experts. The Panicled Aster (Aster simplex) is found on the floodplain, has lance-shaped leaves and grows taller than other asters found locally. Compare to the description for Arrow-Leaved Aster (Aster sagittifolius).

This aster is found on floodplains near water, flowering from August through October. In Fontenelle Forest, common along the Missouri River at the end of Childís Hollow. Common on the Missouri River shore off MRE Trail at Neale Woods.

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