Ontario Wildflowers website

Calico Aster
Symphyotrichum lateriflorum
(formerly Aster lateriflorus)

Calico Aster (Symphyotrichum lateriflorum) Other common names: One-sided Aster, Small White Aster, Starved Aster, White Woodland Aster

Other scientific names: Aster lateriflorus, Aster diffusus, Aster vimineus, Solidago lateriflora

French names: Aster lateriflore

Family: Composite Family (Asteraceae)

Group: Asters

Distinctive features: Long horizontal branches. Sparse flowers.

Similar species:
  •   Heath Aster (Symphyotrichum ericoides) - Leaves much smaller and more numerous, flowers very numerous.

  •   Arrow-leaved Aster (Symphyotrichum urophyllum) - Leaves are larger, branches are upswept.

  •   Panicled Aster (Symphyotrichum lanceolatum)

Flowers: Summer, Autumn;  White;  7 or more parts (petals);  1cm or less in diameter. Ray flowers: 8-15, white. Disc flowers: 8-16, yellow or pink becoming purple or brown. Flowers are scattered along branches. Flowers grow along the upper side of the branch.

Leaves: Alternate, Simple, Entire;  Similar to Panicled Aster, but smaller: elongated lance-shaped.

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

Stem: Long horizontal branches spread out from main stem.

Habitat: Fields and Open Areas, Meadows;  Fields. Often found at the edge of a field, such as along trails, in slightly shaded locations.

Grows in Sun/Shade: Sun, Shade

Lifespan: Perennial.  

Books: Newcomb's Wildflower Guide: 456    Peterson's Field Guide to Wildflowers: 96   

Native/Non-native: Native

Status: Common.

Notes: This is a very common Aster. It is common along roadsides and field edges. It's fairly easy to recognise.

Photographs: 80 photographs available, of which 8 are featured on this page. SCROLL DOWN FOR PHOTOGRAPHS.

Range Map is at the bottom of the page

Calico Aster (Symphyotrichum lateriflorum)

The distinguishing feature of Calico Aster is its form: open spreading branches, with relatively sparse flowers. This may have given rise to its other common name, Starved Aster.


Calico Aster (Symphyotrichum lateriflorum)

The flowers range from blue to pink to white.

The horizontal spreading branches are in contrast to Arrow-leaved Aster (Symphyotrichum urophyllum), which has upward-sweeping branches.

Calico Aster (Symphyotrichum lateriflorum)

Calico Aster (Symphyotrichum lateriflorum)

Closeup of the flowers.

The disc flowers start out yellow, and gradually turn purple.

Calico Aster (Symphyotrichum lateriflorum)

A photo of a whole plant. They are usually fairly low to the ground, and don't grow very high. They also tend to sprawl.

Calico Aster (Symphyotrichum lateriflorum)

Seeds in early October.

Calico Aster (Symphyotrichum lateriflorum)

This plant is in full seed. This also shows very well the characteristic shape and growth form of this species.

Calico Aster (Symphyotrichum lateriflorum)

A Calico Aster plant in the winter.

Range map for Calico Aster (Symphyotrichum lateriflorum)

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)