Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Lowrie's Blue Wood Aster - Symphyotrichum lowrieanum   (Porter) 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(Porter) Nesom
DistributionMountains only. This species is tentatively accepted as a good species, but see Taxonomic Comments. Very poorly known in NC, as most biologists/botanists are not aware of the taxon and probably would pass it by as S. cordifolium. Thus, the map below is hardly complete, and as it ranges over most of the VA mountains, it could occur in most NC Mountain counties.

MA to Ont., south to northern GA and TN.
AbundanceUncommon to possibly locally common, but rarity or abundance very poorly reported. Wofford (1989) calls it "common" and present in all states in the Blue Ridge Mountains. But Weakley's (2018) map shows it as "common" in the VA Mountains and Piedmont but "rare" in the NC Mountains. The editors will give a tentative rank of S3? for now, as it seems unlikely to be present in NC only in the southern mountains, for a "Northern" species. It probably deserves a Watch List status.
HabitatNC specimens are from "open rich woods", "wet roadside bank", "rich deciduous woods border", and "edge of woods and vacant lot." It probably favors circumneutral/high pH soil, but such has not been explicitly stated. As it might be a hybrid derivative of S. cordifolium x S. laeve, both of which clearly occur on high pH soil, it should be assumed to do so in NC.
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting September-October.
IdentificationThis species is very much like S. cordifolium (which see), with pale blue ray flowers and a yellow disk, but leaves and stems are glabrous or glabrate (vs. pubescent). Some plants of S. urophyllum may be glabrate, but its inflorescence is more compact (vs. broader and more open) and the involucral bract tips are acuminate and narrow (vs. blunt or barely acute and relatively broad). Gleason (1952) says "Similar to A. cordifolius (= S. cordifolium), but . . . the leaves feeling very smooth to the touch, averaging narrower and more elongate than in A. cordifolius, the middle and upper ones generally only shallowly cordate or merely subcordate or abruptly narrowed to the commonly conspicuously winged petioles, or even sessile and lanceolate".
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 lumps it in with S. cordifolium; they state that most specimens identified as lowrieanum have been annotated to cordifolium, while others appear to be hybrids of cordifolium x laeve. Cronquist (1980) recognizes it as a valid species, "perhaps originating by hybridization."

Other Common Name(s)Smooth Heartleaf Aster, Lowrie's Aster, Lowrie's American-aster
State Rank[S3?]
Global RankG3G5Q
State Status[W7]
US Status
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