IUCN threat status:

Not evaluated

Comprehensive Description

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Description

This native perennial plant is 2-5' tall, branching occasionally. The larger stems are occasionally reddish, and have lines of white hairs. The alternate leaves are up to 5½" long and ¾" across, becoming smaller and narrower as they ascend up the stems. They are lanceolate, narrowly ovate, or linear, and have smooth margins. Underneath, the leaves are whitish green with a reticulate network of fine veins that is quite conspicuous.  The inflorescence is large and pyramidal, containing numerous daisy-like composite flowers from ½–1" across. Each flower has 20-30 lavender or light blue ray florets surrounding numerous yellow disk florets that eventually become reddish purple. The blooming period occurs from early to mid-fall, and lasts about a month. There is no noticeable floral scent. The achenes develop with small tufts of hair, and are dispersed by the wind. The root system is fibrous and rhizomatous. The Willow Aster often spreads vegetatively to form small to large colonies.

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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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