Ontario Wildflowers website

Heath Aster
Symphyotrichum ericoides
(formerly Aster ericoides)

Heath Aster (Symphyotrichum ericoides) Other common names: Heath White Aster, Many-flowered Aster, Tufted White Prairie Aster

Other scientific names: Aster ericoides, Aster multiflorus, Aster pansus, Aster polycephalus, Lasallea ericoides, Virgulus ericoides

French names: Aster lisse

Family: Composite Family (Asteraceae)

Group: Asters

Distinctive features: Many small white flowers, closely crowded along the stems. Small leaves.

Similar species:
  •   Frost Aster (Symphyotrichum pilosum) - Densely hairy stem.

  •   Calico Aster (Symphyotrichum lateriflorum) - Spreading horizontal branches.

  •   Amethyst Aster (Symphyotrichum x amethystinum) - Purple flowers, like a miniature New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae).

Flowers: Summer, Autumn;  White;  7 or more parts (petals);  Small: less than 1cm in diameter. Ray flowers: 13-20, white, very short. Disc flowers: 7-15, yellow becoming brown. Spread out along branches. Densely packed, often overlapping.

Leaves: Alternate, Simple, Entire;  Small, numerous, closely crowded, as in heaths. The upper stem leaves are tipped with a tiny soft spine. Lower leaves often gone by flowering.

Height: 30-80 cm (11-31 in)

Stem: Upper stems crowded with incurved hairs.

Habitat: Fields and Open Areas, Meadows, Roadsides;  Fields, roadsides. Grows in patches as it spreads primarily by runners and roots.

Grows in Sun/Shade: Sun

Lifespan: Perennial.  

Books: Newcomb's Wildflower Guide: 458    Peterson's Field Guide to Wildflowers: 96   

Native/Non-native: Native

Status: Common.

Notes: This is another one of the Asters that is fairly easy to identify. The closely packed overlapping white flowers are distinctive. When referring to this species it is best to use its Latin name as well, as there is at least one other Aster that is commonly called Heath Aster Aster.

Photographs: 189 photographs available, of which 14 are featured on this page. SCROLL DOWN FOR PHOTOGRAPHS.

Range Map is at the bottom of the page

Heath Aster (Symphyotrichum ericoides)

Heath Aster is a small Aster, with closely crowded flowers.

Heath Aster (Symphyotrichum ericoides)

This characteristic of closely crowded flowers gives rise to its other common name, Many-flowered Aster.

Heath Aster (Symphyotrichum ericoides)

Sometimes there are only a few flowers blooming on one stem at a time. This gives the flowers less of a "jammed-together" appearance. Sometimes Heath Aster resembles Frost Aster (Symphyotrichum pilosum) (which is also called Heath Aster).

Heath Aster (Symphyotrichum ericoides)

Heath Aster (Symphyotrichum ericoides)

Closeup of the flowers.

Heath Aster (Symphyotrichum ericoides)

The flowers sometimes seem like they're jammed together.

Heath Aster (Symphyotrichum ericoides)

This shows the relative size of the flowers.

Heath Aster (Symphyotrichum ericoides)

Lots of small, crowded leaves as well.

Heath Aster (Symphyotrichum ericoides)

This Aster gets its name from the many small heath-like leaves.

Heath Aster (Symphyotrichum ericoides)

Flower buds.

Heath Aster (Symphyotrichum ericoides)

A field of Heath Asters.

Heath Aster (Symphyotrichum ericoides)

Here is a comparison photo:

Left: New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae)
Middle: Amethyst Aster (Symphyotrichum x amethystinum)
Right: Heath Aster (Symphyotrichum ericoides).

Heath Aster (Symphyotrichum ericoides)

And another comparison photo with entirely different samples:

Left: Heath Aster (Symphyotrichum ericoides)
Middle: Amethyst Aster (Symphyotrichum x amethystinum)
Right: New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae).

Heath Aster (Symphyotrichum ericoides)

Here are:

Left: Frost Aster (Symphyotrichum pilosum)
Right: Heath Aster (Symphyotrichum ericoides).

Range map for Heath Aster (Symphyotrichum ericoides)

PLEASE NOTE: A coloured Province or State means this species occurs somewhere in that Province/State.
The entire Province/State is coloured, regardless of where in that Province/State it occurs.

(Range map provided courtesy of the USDA website and is displayed here in accordance with their Policies)