Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Eastern Showy Aster - Eurybia spectabilis   (Aiton) G.L. Nesom
Members of Asteraceae:
Members of Eurybia with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Order Asterales » Family Asteraceae
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Author(Aiton) G.L. Nesom
DistributionScattered across the eastern 2/3rds of the state; scarce in the Mountains. There seems to be no pattern to its distribution here. Whether it is truly absent in the large areas without specimens is not certain, though it probably is absent in the far eastern counties. A specimen from Tyrrell County is actually Symphyotrichum undulatum; a specimen from Granville County is actually E. compacta.

Coastal Plain and Piedmont, MA to SC; disjunct to northeastern AL.
AbundanceSome species with tighter ranges, such as E. mirabilis, can be reasonably numerous and be given a State Rank of S3. However, despite records for 23 counties, very few populations of Eastern Showy Aster contain more than just a few plants, and many are old and presumed historical. This may be a species in moderate to strong decline. Despite a wide habitat selection, it is difficult to find, and it is considered Significantly Rare in NC; the State Rank of S1S2 indicates this rarity well.
HabitatDry sandy or clayey soils of pinelands, pine-deciduous woodlands, openings and margins of these woodlands, roadsides, railroad rights-of-way. It tends to occur in association with mesic pine stands, especially their margins.
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting August-October.
IdentificationThe genus Eurybia has been split from Aster (now Symphyotrichum). Variation among species of each genus requires several steps in a key to split members of the two genera apart (see genus key in Weakley 2018).

Eastern Showy Aster usually grows 1-2 feet tall, with dense hairs (and usually glands) on the stems. Lower leaves are elliptical and stalked; upper leaves are smaller and not stalked. Heads vary in number and have quite long lavender-blue to lavender-violet rays. The flower bract tips spread outward or may even be recurved; they are conspicuously gland-dotted. It is sad that this is so scarce a species, as indeed it is a spectacular plant when in bloom!
Taxonomic CommentsFormerly treated as Aster spectabilis.

Other Common Name(s)Low Showy Aster, Showy Aster, Purple Wood-aster
State RankS1S2
Global RankG5
State StatusSR-O
US Status
County Map - click on a county to view source of record.
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B.A. SorriePhoto taken 1981 in carver, MA. Rays are bluer than photo shows. Photo_non_NCPhoto_non_NC
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