Stiff Aster, ionactis linariifolius

Stiff Aster

ionactis linariifolius

Benefits:
Sun Shade:
Bloom Time: Fall
Zones: 4, 5
Soil Conditions: Acid, Loam, Rocky
Soil Moisture: Dry
Color: Purple
Fragrance: No
Height: 3-5 inches
Spacing: 10 to 12 inches


Description

Stiff Aster (Ionactis linariifolia) is a low growing, native aster grows in clumps 15-20 inches tall and is typically found in acid soils in pine-oak or pine-hickory woods, ridgetops, upland slopes and glades. Sometimes called stiff-leafed aster because its rather distinctive linear leaves are narrow (almost needle-like), rigid and single-nerved (one prominent central vein). Stems and general habit are also stiff. Small flowers (1 inch across) have blue-violet to purple rays and yellow center disks and appear at the ends of ascending stems (often singly) in late summer to fall. The blooming period occurs from early to mid-fall and lasts about 1 month. Both disk and ray florets produce achenes. The small achenes are bullet-shaped and pubescent; there is a small tuft of hairs at the apex of each achene. For each tuft, the spreading inner hairs are long, while the outer hairs are short. The tufted achenes are distributed by the wind. The root system forms a caudex with fibrous roots; sometimes, spreading rhizomes are produced, from which vegetative offsets can develop.

Habitats include upland sand prairies, upland sandy savannas, stabilized sand dunes, open rocky woodlands, rocky wooded slopes, and sandstone glades. This wildflower is found in high quality natural habitats with sparse ground cover. It benefits from occasional wildfires in wooded areas, as this reduces the encroachment of woody vegetation.

The preference is full or partial sun, dry-mesic conditions, and an acidic soil that is sandy or rocky. This wildflower can be cultivated in rock gardens.

Plant Notes and Herbal Uses
  Good for cut flowers.
  Drought tolerant.
  Can be cultivated in rock gardens.
Further Information

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 Widsconsin Edible Plants-Eat On The Wild Side
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 Wisconsin Native Plant Nurseries