Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Walter's Aster - Symphyotrichum walteri   (Alexander) 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(Alexander) Nesom
DistributionSandhills and the southern half of the Coastal Plain, north to Lee, Johnston, Beaufort, and Hyde counties.

Coastal Plain, NC to central FL.
AbundanceLocally common in Longleaf Pine (P. palustris) habitats in the Sandhills and the southern Coastal Plain counties. Mostly uncommon in the northern part of the range and in the south-central counties.
HabitatDry to xeric Longleaf Pine-Wiregrass uplands, drier savannas, flatwoods, loamy sand pea swales, powerlines. In a variety of moisture settings, but usually in diverse and well-managed Longleaf Pine stands.
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting October-November. Flowers very late for any species, often not in bloom until November.
IdentificationWalter's Aster has unique architecture: slender stems and wide-spreading branches, often lying on the ground except for the outer portions of the branches, and all covered with tiny leaves that are abruptly reflexed (or folded) downwards. The leaves are triangular, rather thick textured, and scabrous (rough) on margins. Heads are small, with pale blue rays and bright yellow disks. The species is completely unmistakable. Biologists unfamiliar with it often are puzzled at this odd plant when not in bloom, as it certainly does not even resemble an aster in any respects. Thankfully, when the flowers are visible, its true identify becomes evident.
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.

Formerly treated as Aster squarrosus. One of our most remarkable asters, so unusual that it has been placed in two different genera (Lasallea, Virgulus).

Other Common Name(s)None. Surprisingly it has not been given a name for its unusual leaves and growth form -- i.e., such as Scale-leaf Aster or a similar name.
State RankS4
Global RankG4?
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B.A. SorrieSame data. MoorePhoto_natural
B.A. SorrieWeymouth Woods, longleaf pine upland, Oct 2014. MoorePhoto_natural
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