Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Smooth Blue Aster - Symphyotrichum laeve   (L.) A. Love & D. Love
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.) A. Love & D. Love
DistributionUpper Piedmont and low Mountains, with broad gaps between locations. A specimen (Millis 013 BOON) from Watauga County is misidentified. A specimen at DUKE from Harnett County is Eurybia palustris. A specimen at DUKE from Wake County is S. patens. Similarly, specimens from Craven, Jackson, Pender, and Swain counties are misidentified.

N.B. to Man., south to GA and KS. Interestingly, widespread in eastern VA, but no records yet in NC for the eastern half of the state.
AbundanceVery rare to rare, and possibly declining. The NCNHP database lists only 10 records, of which just 6 are extant, and none with any meaningful data on population size. Thus, the State Rank might really be closer to S1 than S1S2, and it ought to be upgraded to State Special Concern or State Threatened in the near future -- rather than simply as Significantly Rare. Obviously, more data and findings are needed -- how truly rare is this species in NC?
HabitatDry to mesic deciduous woodlands and open forests, rocky slopes, roadsides through these habitats -- always in high pH soil, underlain by mafic or calcareous rocks.
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting September-October.
IdentificationAs in Narrowleaf Smooth Aster (S. concinnum), Smooth Blue Aster is two-parted: the lower 2/3rds of the plant has elliptical, smooth-margined leaves; the upper 1/3 has ascending branches with many small, elliptical leaflike bracts. The scattered flowers have blue to lavender rays and yellow disks. It is very similar to that other species, but that one has stem leaves narrower and non-clasping, and the ray florets are paler blue. In general, Smooth Blue Aster has more flowers than does Narrowleaf Smooth Aster and thus is a somewhat showier plant when in bloom.
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.

This species is often listed as a variety -- S. laeve var. laeve.

Other Common Name(s)None
State RankS1S2
Global RankG5
State StatusSR-P
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