Comprehensive DescriptionRead full entry
General: Aster Family (Asteraceae). Smooth blue aster is a perennial forb with a stout rhizome and underground stem (caudex). Six to seven aerial stems sprout from the caudex. Plants are generally 30 to 100 cm tall. Leaves are thick and stout, 1 to 2.4 cm wide and less than 5 times as long as wide, sometimes toothed along the margins and clasped to the stem by a lobed appendage (auricle). Leaves near the inflorescence are reduced to 2 mm bracts and have diamond-shaped tips. Each plant produces several inflorescences. Ray flowers are pale blue to purple, 7 to 15 mm long. Disc flowers are yellowish. Fruit are achenes. Flowering occurs from August to October. Lower leaves drop early in the autumn while upper leaves remain until frost top-kills the plant.
Distribution: Smooth blue aster is native to the United States. It occurs from Maine to British Columbia, south to Georgia and Arkansas, and west to New Mexico. For current distribution, please consult the Plant Profile page for this species on the PLANTS Web site.
Habitat: Smooth blue aster occurs in various habitats, ranging from moist woods to dry, open prairies. It is most notably associated with mixed prairie plant types, and is also a dominant understory species in quaking-aspen communities.