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Profuse, white, daisylike flower heads with yellow centers cover heath aster from late summer to mid-fall. The stems are filled with numerous narrow, pointed leaves that give heath aster an appearance similar to flowering heath. In dry to moist soils with full to partial sunlight, this is a perennial that can be planted in cut-flower gardens, rock gardens, pollinator gardens, drought-tolerant gardens, native gardens, cottage gardens, meadows, and woodlands. This species is native to the Chicago region according to Swink and Wilhelm’s Plants of the Chicago Region and current research.

  • Family (English) Aster
  • Family (botanic) Asteraceae
  • Tree or plant type Perennial
  • Native locale Chicago area, Illinois, North America
  • Size range Medium plant (12-24 inches), Large plant (more than 24 inches)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 3, Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8, Zone 9, Zone 10
  • Soil preference Alkaline soil, Dry soil, Moist, Sandy soil, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, clay soil, Dry sites, Occasional drought
  • Season of interest late summer, early fall, mid fall
  • Flower color and fragrance White
  • Shape or form Multi-stemmed, Upright
  • Growth rate Moderate
  • Wildlife Birds, Butterflies, Game birds, Game mammals, Insect pollinators

Size and method of spreading:

Heath aster reaches heights of 1 to 3 feet tall and spreads 1 to 1 ½ feet wide at maturity. It spreads by producing offsets through underground stem structures (rhizomes) and by self-seeding. 

Native geographic location and habitat: (include C-value if appropriate)

The native range of heath aster includes the Central and Eastern United States. C Value: 6.

Attracts birds or pollinators: 

Heath aster attracts a variety of wildlife. It attracts various species of bees, beetles, birds, butterflies, flies, moths, skippers, and wasps.

Leaf description:

The leaves of heath aster are plentiful and small, alternating in arrangement on the stems. The largest leaves are produced around the base of the plant (basal leaves) and are up to one-quarter inch wide and 2 inches long and are more spatula shaped (narrowly oblanceolate) than the leaves along the stems (cauline). The basal and lowest cauline leaves wither and drop before the flower heads appear. The long, sharply pointed, narrow, linear leaves reduce in size as they ascend the stems. Heath aster leaves have no teeth along the edges (entire margins) and attach directly to the stems (sessile). In the leaf axils, there are often clusters (fascicles) of tiny leaves. Both the upper and lower surfaces of the leaves may be hairless (glabrous) or have sparse, short, stiff hairs (pubescent). 

Flower description:

Heath aster flower heads are small, daisylike composites of white, narrow, petallike ray flowers surrounding a center of yellow disk flowers that turn a reddish color when they mature. The composite flower heads are one-third to one-half of an inch in diameter. The flower heads grow on individual stalks that form complex panicles, often appearing on one side of the flowering stems. Each flower head has between eight to 20 ray flowers and numerous disk flowers. Long, sharply pointed, leaflike appendages (bracts) occur in three to four layers around the bases of the flowerheads. The numerous bracts have white bases and green tips.

Fruit description:

Heath aster has small dry fruits (achenes). These are tipped with tufts of white hair that help distribute the fruit via the wind.

Plant Care:

Taller plants may require staking to avoid flopping due to the weight of the flowers. 

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances:

Some pests that feed on the foliage of heath aster include aphids, caterpillars of butterflies and moths, lace bugs, and plant bugs. Immature plants are foraged by deer and rabbits, but mature heath asters are not. 


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