Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Calico Aster - Symphyotrichum lateriflorum   (L.) A. Love & D. Love
Members of Asteraceae:
Members of Symphyotrichum with account distribution info or public map:
Google Images
Section 6 » Order Asterales » Family Asteraceae
Author(L.) A. Love & D. Love
DistributionThroughout the state, likely in every county but absent from the Outer Banks. The website editors lump varieties that have been credited to NC until these forms can be successfully teased apart.

N.S. to Man., south to FL and TX.
AbundanceCommon essentially statewide. One of the state's most abundant asters of wetlands.
HabitatMoist, seasonally or irregularly inundated soils of floodplain forests, bottomlands, swamp forests, marshes, damp meadows, and moist clearings. It does grow sparingly into uplands, though usually not far from a wetland and usually in moist or rich soil.
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting September - early November.
IdentificationThere are very few "small white asters" that inhabit floodplains and bottomlands. S. lanceolatum does so, but its leaves are glabrous beneath (vs. pubescent), its ray florets are distinctly longer, and its inflorescence is conical and taller than wide. Calico Aster has long and often horizontally spreading branches with flowering heads near or at the ends; in this regard it may resemble Bushy Aster (S. dumosum), but Calico Aster's branch bracts are acute to acuminate (vs. blunt to acute). Calico Aster tends to show purplish to red disk florets and almost always has white rays (vs. often pale blue), and the flowers are often somewhat secund along a branch, all facing in the same direction. Though you must take care in identifying the small-flowered white asters, you will have no trouble seeing this species often along a creek or edges of a bottomland and should become quite familiar with it.
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.

Named as Aster lateriflorus in older references.

Other Common Name(s)Starved Aster (RAB 1968), White Woodland Aster, Side-flowering Aster
State RankS5
Global RankG5
State Status
US Status
USACE-agcpFAC link
USACE-empFACW link
County Map - click on a county to view source of record.
Photo Gallery
B.A. SorrieSame data. BertiePhoto_natural
B.A. SorrieRoanoke River NWR, Kuralt Trail through floodplain, early Nov 2017. BertiePhoto_natural
B.A. SorrieTriassic Basin, McLendon's Creek at Cool Springs Road, late Oct 2014.
Select a source
Select an occurrence type