Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Heartleaf Aster - Symphyotrichum cordifolium   (L.) G.L. Nesom
Members of Asteraceae:
Members of Symphyotrichum with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Order Asterales » Family Asteraceae
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Author(L.) G.L. Nesom
DistributionMountains and Piedmont; also local on the Coastal Plain in Piedmont-like habitats (along the Cape Fear and Roanoke rivers, and calcareous soils in Craven and Jones counties). Absent from the Sandhills proper.

N.B. to Ont. and ND, south to northwestern FL and TX.
AbundanceCommon in the Mountains. Fairly common in the northern Piedmont (near the VA line), but mostly uncommon in that province, and rare near the SC line. In the Coastal Plain, restricted to high pH soils, where rare along the Cape Fear and Roanoke rivers and very rare in the far eastern counties. The State Rank should be moved to S4S5, if not S5, as it is quite widespread and numerous in the mountains.
HabitatMesic to moist, rich soils of hardwood forests, cove forests, rocky forested slopes, brownwater river- and streambanks, and wooded roadbanks; calcareous banks of creeks in Craven and Jones counties. This species is characteristic of high pH soils.
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting September-October.
IdentificationHeartleaf Aster typically grows 1-2.5 feet tall, with long-stalked, ovate, cordate (the base with a heart-shaped sinus), toothed leaves. The inflorescence is elongate and rather triangular in outline, with smallish heads containing pale blue rays and yellow disks. It can be confused with Eurybia divaricata, but that species has a somewhat flat-topped or dome-shaped inflorescence that has few leafy bracts among the branches, and white rays (vs. elongate, triangular inflorescence in outline, with many small leafy bracts, and bluish rays). There are several additional blue-flowered species, mostly recent splits or poorly known, that can be confused with it -- e.g., S. lowrieanum, S. urophyllum, and S. shortii. See those species accounts.
Taxonomic CommentsNOTE: The genus Aster was examined by G.L. Nesom (1994), who determined that it was composed of a number of discrete genera (a few of which were already split off by authors as Sericocarpus, Ionactis, etc.). The earliest available name for North American "Aster" is Symphyotrichum, a name regrettably long and hard to spell.

FNA lists a number of synonyms, including S. lowrieanum, which Weakley (2018) recognizes at species level.

Other Common Name(s)Blue Wood Aster
State RankS4 [S4S5]
Global RankG5
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