Overview

Comprehensive Description

Comments

There are many aster species in Illinois (about 35-38), and this is one of the less common species. In many ways, Many-Rayed Aster resembles the more common Aster drummondii (Drummond's Aster), but the former has larger flowerheads (at least ¾" across) with strongly recurved floral bracts. In contrast, Drummond's Aster (and many other woodland/savanna asters) has flowerheads about ½–¾" across and straight floral bracts. As the common name suggests, Many-Rayed Aster has abundant ray florets (20-35 or more), while other woodland/savanna asters typically have 10-20 ray florets. I am somewhat partial to Many-Rayed Aster because it is easy to grow, the flowerheads are a little larger in size, and they are usually more showy than the flowerheads of other woodland/savanna asters.
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Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Description

This native perennial wildflower is 1-4' tall. Initially, evergreen basal leaves are produced, forming a rosette about 4-6" across; these leaves develop during the late fall and persist into the spring. Later, a central stem develops that becomes branched in the upper half. Both the central and lateral stems are terete and evenly pubescent. Along each stem, there are alternate leaves up to 4" long and 2½" across. These leaves are variable in shape
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Distribution

Range and Habitat in Illinois

Many-Rayed Aster is largely restricted to west-central and south-west Illinois, where it is uncommon to occasional (see Distribution Map). Elsewhere in the state, it is absent. This species is endemic to the mid-section of the United States, where it is found primarily in Arkansas, Missouri, and Illinois. Habitats include upland oak woodlands, upland oak savannas, thinly wooded bluffs along major rivers, partially shaded cliffs, rocky thickets, and various kinds of glades (limestone, sandstone, chert, etc.). This aster is fairly conservative ecologically, but it will adapt to minor levels of disturbance and probably benefits from occasional wildfires.
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Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Localities documented in Tropicos sources

Aster anomalus Engelm. ex Torr. & A. Gray:
United States (North America)

Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
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National Distribution

United States

Origin: Unknown/Undetermined

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

Perennials, 20–100(–120) cm, cespitose; usually with short, stout, branched caudices, woody with age, sometimes long-rhizomatous. Stems 1–5+, erect or ascending (straight, often stout), proximally usually ± densely hirtellous, sometimes glabrescent, distally hirsute. Leaves thick, firm, margins (slightly undulate) scabrous, adaxial faces glabrous or strigose, scabrous, adaxial ± sparsely hirsute to scabro-hirtellous, sometimes ± scabrous (cauline sometimes with tufts of smaller leaves in axils); basal withering by flowering, petiolate (petioles sometimes narrowly winged), blades oblong-ovate to lanceolate, 10–40 × 10–20 mm, bases deeply cordate, margins sparsely serrate to serrulate, apices usually acute, sometimes obtuse to rounded; proximal cauline usually withering by flowering, petiolate (petioles slender to ± winged), blades ovate to broadly lanceolate, 40–90 × (15–) 25–50 mm, bases shallowly cordate or rounded to attenuate, rarely truncate, margins subentire or entire (rarely serrulate), apices acute or acuminate, with short callus point; distal subpetiolate or sessile, blades ovate to lanceolate or linear-lanceolate, 10–70 × 1–10 mm, gradually or abruptly reduced distally, bases attenuate to cuneate, margins entire, apices acute to acuminate. Heads in open, diffuse, paniculiform arrays, branches divaricate, stout, long, densely bracteate. Peduncles densely bracteate, 0.3–5(–10) cm (rarely subsesssile), bracts numerous, linear, 2–6 mm, mucronulate, grading into phyllaries. Involucres campanulate, 5–10 mm. Phyllaries in 4–6 series, oblong-lanceolate (outer) to oblanceolate-linear (innermost), unequal, bases indurate (appressed), margins ciliate to scabro-ciliate, green zones diamond-shaped to lanceolate, ± foliaceous distally, apices reflexed to squarrose, long-acuminate, apiculate, often purple, faces strigoso-hirtellous. Ray florets 18–45; corollas usually bright lavender-blue to purple, seldom white, laminae 9–15(–18) × 1–3.2 mm. Disc florets 33–40+; corollas cream or light yellow turning pinkish purple, (4–)4.5–5.5 mm, tubes shorter than funnelform throats, lobes sometimes ± spreading, triangular to lanceolate, 0.5–0.8 mm. Cypselae deep purple to purplish brown or brown with purple speckles (nerves stramineous), oblong-obovoid, compressed, (1–)2.5–3.5(–3.8) mm, 5–6-nerved, faces glabrous; pappi tawny or rose-tinged, 3.7–5.2 mm. 2n = 16.
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Diagnostic Description

Synonym

Aster anomalus Engelmann ex Torrey & A. Gray, Fl. N. Amer. 2: 503. 1843
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Ecology

Habitat

Range and Habitat in Illinois

Many-Rayed Aster is largely restricted to west-central and south-west Illinois, where it is uncommon to occasional (see Distribution Map). Elsewhere in the state, it is absent. This species is endemic to the mid-section of the United States, where it is found primarily in Arkansas, Missouri, and Illinois. Habitats include upland oak woodlands, upland oak savannas, thinly wooded bluffs along major rivers, partially shaded cliffs, rocky thickets, and various kinds of glades (limestone, sandstone, chert, etc.). This aster is fairly conservative ecologically, but it will adapt to minor levels of disturbance and probably benefits from occasional wildfires.
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Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Associations

Flower-Visiting Insects of Many-Rayed Aster in Illinois

Aster anomalus (Many-Rayed Aster)
(Bees suck nectar or collect pollen, other insects suck nectar; one obervation is from Krombein et al. as indicated below, otherwise observations are from Robertson)

Bees (long-tongued)
Apidae (Apinae): Apis mellifera sn cp; Apidae (Bombini): Bombus impatiens sn, Bombus pensylvanica sn fq, Psithyrus variabilis sn; Anthophoridae (Ceratinini): Ceratina dupla dupla sn cp; Anthophoridae (Eucerini): Melissodes dentiventris sn cp, Melissodes rustica sn cp, Melissodes trinodis sn cp; Megachilidae (Megachilini): Megachile brevis brevis sn cp, Megachile latimanus sn cp

Bees (short-tongued)
Halictidae (Halictinae): Augochlora purus sn, Halictus ligatus sn cp, Lasioglossum pectoralis sn cp, Lasioglossum pilosus pilosus sn; Colletidae (Colletinae): Colletes americana sn cp, Colletes compactus sn cp; Andrenidae (Andreninae): Andrena asteris sn cp olg, Andrena simplex cp olg (Kr), Andrena solidaginis sn cp olg

Wasps
Braconidae: Chelonus sericeus

Flies
Syrphidae: Dasysyrphus venustus, Eristalis transversus; Bombyliidae: Poecilanthrax alcyon, Sparnopolius confusus; Empididae: Empis clausa; Tachinidae: Plagiomima spinosula; Calliphoridae: Cochliomyia macellaria

Butterflies
Nymphalidae: Phyciodes tharos; Pieridae: Colias cesonia, Phoebis sennae, Pieris rapae, Pontia protodice

Beetles
Meloidae: Epicauta pensylvanica sn np

Plant Bugs
Lygaeidae: Lygaeus turcicus

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Faunal Associations

The nectar and pollen of the flowers attract a variety of insects, including long-tongued bees, short-tongued bees, Syrphid flies, bee flies, and small- to medium-sized butterflies. A specialist pollinator of asters is the bee Andrena simplex. Many insects feed on various parts of asters (leaves, flowerheads, stems, etc.), including the caterpillars of the butterflies Chlosyne nycteis (Silvery Checkerspot) and Phyciodes tharos (Pearl Crescent); other species are listed in the Moth Table (moths & butterflies) and the Insect Table (primarily aphids, leaf beetles, & plant bugs). The Ruffed Grouse and Wild Turkey feed on the leaves, flowerheads, and seeds of asters (especially those species occurring in woodlands and savannas). Mammals feeding on asters include the White-Tailed Deer (foliage), Cottontail Rabbit (foliage), and White-Footed Mouse (seeds). Asters help to provide cover for wildlife.
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G4 - Apparently Secure

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Notes

Comments

A. G. Jones (1989, 1992) reported that Symphyo­trichum anomalum may hybridize with S. drummondii, S. oolentangiense, and S. shortii.
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