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Hairy White Oldfield Aster, Frost Aster, White Heath Aster - Symphyotrichum pilosum


Family: Asteraceae - Aster family Genus Common Name: Aster Native Status: Native
Symphyotrichum pilosum - Hairy White Oldfield Aster, Frost Aster, White Heath Aster. A different species of Symphyotrichum, S. ericoides, has the national name of White Heath Aster, but this species is also referred to by that common name in some places. Many species formerly classified in the Aster genus have been reclassified into Symphyotrichum and other genera within the Asteraceae family. This one was previously classified as Aster pilosus. Many of these small white aster species are difficult to tell apart (I'm not absolutely certain on this one.) The primary differentiator for S. pilosum one is the hairy stem, which is referenced by the species name pilosum, from the Latin word for hair - pilus.

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Symphyotrichum pilosum

Distribution of Symphyotrichum pilosum 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, 24 Jun 2017). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.

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Site: Walker County, GA Date: 2009-October-03Photographer: Gerald C. Williamson
This dew-covered blossom shows the Frost Aster blossom, which has yellow disk flowers and 15 to 30 white ray flowers, which may turn pink when fertilized.
Symphyotrichum pilosum

Site: Walker County, Ga Date: 2009-October-03Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Each flower stem has bract-like alternating leaves, which are sharply pointed, as are the involucre bracts.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Symphyotrichum pilosum

Site: Walker County, Ga Date: 2009-October-03Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Symphyotrichum pilosum has many-flowers arising from many-branches off of a stem which is reddish in the mature plant. They make a striking display.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Symphyotrichum pilosum

Site: Walker County, Ga Date: 2009-October-03Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D60
Tamron SP 90MM f/2.8 AF Macro
Symphyotrichum pilosum has a national common name of Hairy White Oldfield Aster. I don't know the origin the Oldfield part of the name, but the hairy part is clear when you look at the stem. The species name - pilosum - comes from the Latin for hair - pilus.

Update 11/01/2010: I was reading through my copy of Wildflowers Of Tennessee, The Ohio Valley and the Southern Appalachians trying to identify another Aster and noticed this on their Aster pilosus (Symphyotricum pilosum) description: "Where found: Old fields throughout the eastern U.S..." Slapped my forehead - Of course that's where the "Oldfield" in the name originates!
Click on the photo for a larger image
Symphyotrichum pilosum

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