Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Frost Aster - Symphyotrichum pilosum   (Willdenow) Nesom
Members of Asteraceae:
Members of Symphyotrichum with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Order Asterales » Family Asteraceae
Author(Willdenow) Nesom
DistributionThroughout the state, certainly found in every county.

N.B. to MN, south to FL and TX.
AbundanceCommon to often abundant statewide, and probably the most numerous aster in the state in most areas.
HabitatFields, pastures, meadows, roadsides, powerlines, clearcuts, and woodland margins. A native species yet has weedy tendencies, typically found in full sun and in a variety of moisture levels.
See also Habitat Account for General Successional Fields and Forblands
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting September-November.
IdentificationFrost Aster is one of the "small white aster" group, but stands out with its densely (sometimes moderately) spreading-hairy stems and leaf undersides. Stems grow typically 2-4 feet tall and often lean; many plants can look quite "bushy" with the wide-spreading branches. The bracts on inflorescence branches are much longer and more tapered than those of S. dumosum. From all other small white asters, it differs in the generally involute tips (vs. flat) of the involucral bracts (which form the base of each head). This plant is easily observed, being one of the dominant plants of old fields several years after clearing or abandonment. However, as it is so common, some individuals can be smaller and less hairy than most and thereby present some difficulties to key out.
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.

Two varieties occur in the state, the widespread nominate one and the northeastern one (in NC) var. pringlei.

Other Common Name(s)Downy Aster, White Heath Aster, Oldfield Aster. The name used on several websites -- Hairy White Oldfield Aster -- is absurdly long and needs removal of at least one name!
State RankS5
Global RankG5
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