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Topped with little, white, pearl-like flowerheads, wild quinine is well suited for full sun in well- drained, fertile soil. This is a late spring to late summer perennial. It works well in rock gardens, cottage gardens, prairies, and meadows. 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 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 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8
  • Soil preference Dry soil, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Dry sites, Occasional drought
  • Season of interest late spring, early summer, midsummer, late summer
  • Flower color and fragrance White
  • Shape or form Upright
  • Growth rate Moderate
  • Wildlife Butterflies, Insect pollinators

Size and method of spreading:

Wild quinine is often 2 to 4 feet tall and 1 to 2 feet wide at maturity. It spreads by self-seeding. 

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

The native range of wild quinine includes the Eastern and Central United States. C-Value: 8.

Attracts birds or pollinators: 

Wild quinine supports beneficial bee, wasp, and fly species, including female leaf-cutter bees that use the leaves to line their nests.

Leaf description:

Wild quinine has a rosette of 6-inch long and 4-inch wide leaves around the base (basal leaves) from the center of which grows long stems that have leaves that alternate as they ascend. The edges of the leaves are wavy and have coarse teeth that can be forward-facing (serrate margins), outward-facing (dentate margins), or slightly rounded (crenate margins). The basal leaves have long stalks (petioles) and the alternate leaves on the stems are attached by shorter petioles. 

Flower description:

The little, white composite flowerheads of wild quinine look like tiny cauliflower florets. Each composite flowerhead is approximately one-quarter to one-third inch in diameter. The heads are composed of a dome-shaped center of numerous white disk flowers surrounded by typically five, tiny, white, petallike ray flowers. Little black dots (styles) appear among the disk flowers and between the disk and ray flowers. Surrounding the base of the flowerheads are small, whitish-green, leaflike bracts that are covered in tiny hairs. The flowerheads are branched into flat-topped clusters. 

Fruit description:

The center disk flowers will turn darkish brown when the small, dry fruits (achenes) develop. The achenes sometimes have narrow, bristlelike appendages (awns) at the tip rather than a tuft of hair.

Plant Care:

Wild quinine is a low-maintenance native that prefers full sun and well-drained soils. It spreads by seed but does so slowly.  It is drought tolerant but grows poorly in sites that are disturbed.

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances:

Wild quinine is pest and disease-resistant.


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