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Whorled Wood Aster, Whorled Aster, Mountain Aster, Sharp-leaved Aster - Oclemena acuminata


Family: Asteraceae - Aster family Genus Common Name: Aster Native Status: NativeDicot Perennial Herb
Oclemena acuminata - Whorled Wood Aster, Whorled Aster, Mountain Aster, Sharp-leaved Aster. The traditional Aster genus was quite large, with over 250 species in North America. Although the dissolution of Aster started in the 1830's, recent studies have resulted in changes to the classification of most (or, it appears to me, all) of those species into various other genera. While most are now in Symphyotricum or Eurybia, there are a few each in several other genera, with 3 of them in Oclemena - all in eastern North America.

Oclemena acuminata was formerly known as Aster acuminatus. It is Threatened in Kentucky, and Presumed Extirpated in Ohio where it was known historically only in Ashtabula County, in the far northeastern corner of the state. It is known in the Appalachian Mountain states from northeast Georgia north to Maine, and in a few eastern provinces in Canada. In the southern part of its range, it is found only in the higher elevations of the mountains, which is why one of the common names is Mountain Aster. The photographs on this page were taken around 6,000' elevation in western North Carolina.

Found in:
CT, GA, KY, MA, MD, ME, NC, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, TN, VA, VT, WV

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Oclemena acuminata

Distribution of Oclemena acuminata in the United States and Canada:
USDA Plants Distribution Map temporarily unavailable.
Blue=Native; Grey=Introduced

Map from USDA Plants Database:
USDA, NRCS. 2017. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 16 Dec 2017). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.

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Site: GSMNP, Swain County, NC Date: 2013-September-23Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
Tamron SP 90MM f/2.8 AF Macro
The 9-18 ray florets of Whorled Wood Aster are pistillate and usually white although they sometimes have a pink hue. The yellow disc florets are staminate, with yellow corollas which turn reddish with age. Both the stamens and the pistils are exserted.
Oclemena acuminata

Site: GSMNP, Swain County, NC Date: 2013-September-23Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
The leaves are frequently crowded near the top of the plant, so that in their tight alternating spiral on the stem, they appear to be whorled. The lower leaves are usually withered by the time the plant blooms, late summer thru early fall.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Oclemena acuminata

Site: GSMNP, Swain County, NC Date: 2013-September-23Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
The acuminate tip of the leaves provides the species name, whether you subscribe to classification in Aster (Aster acuminatus) or the newer classification in Oclemena (Oclemena acuminata). The leaf is toothed and usually on a small winged petiole, or occasionally sessile.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Oclemena acuminata

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All content except USDA Plants Database map Copyright Gerald C. Williamson 2017
Photographs Copyright owned by the named photographer