Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Aromatic Aster - Symphyotrichum oblongifolium   (Nuttall) G.L. 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(Nuttall) G.L. Nesom
DistributionMountains only -- limited to several locations on the north or east side of the French Broad River, Madison County. Specimens from Buncombe County (USCH) and Yancey County (CATU) lack images in SERNEC; they need to be vetted.

NY to WI and MT, south to NC, north-central AL, TX, and NM.
AbundanceCommon at one known site, with hundreds of plants; a second site has fewer plants. These sites are on conservation lands. The species is very scarce in NC, and State Threatened is a correct status.
HabitatDry calcareous bluffs and rocky forested slopes along a brownwater river -- requiring high pH soil.
See also Habitat Account for Montane Calcareous Barrens and Woodlands
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting late September-October. A quite late-flowering aster for the mountain region.
IdentificationAromatic Aster is unusual in that its stem and branch leaves are about the same size and shape; also, leaves are very numerous, giving the plant a very busy look. Plants grow up to 3 feet tall, well-branched and thus sprawling and looking bushy. They are hairy and glandular from the midstem upwards, leaves are narrowly elliptical, sessile or somewhat clasping, at most 3 inches long, and short-hairy. Heads occur at the ends of leafy branches, with the involucres densely glandular, and the rays blue to red purple. You might not see these plants in bloom until October, but at the best population, it is a spectacular sight to see a dry and rocky slope covered in blue to purplish-blue flowers on such bushy plants.
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.


Other Common Name(s)Shale Barren Aster
State RankS1
Global RankG5
State StatusT
US Status
USACE-agcp
USACE-emp
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