Silky Aster, Symphyotrichum sericeum

Silky Aster

Symphyotrichum sericeum

Benefits:
Sun Shade:
Bloom Time: Fall
Zones: 2, 3, 4, 5
Soil Conditions: Clay, Loam, Sand, Rocky
Soil Moisture: Medium, Moist, Dry
Color: Purple
Fragrance: No
Height: 1 to 3 feet
Spacing: 1 foot


Description

Silky Aster (Symphyotrichum sericeum) or Western Silver Aster is a herbaceous perennial of the aster family which typically grows to 12-24 inches tall. It is native to dry open places in the central plains including woods, bluffs, prairies and glades. Silky aster features a profuse bloom of daisy-like flowers (to 1.5 inches diameter) from late summer to early fall, each flower featuring 10-22 lavender to purple rays surrounding a yellow center. Wiry stems are clad with small pointed oblong to elliptic leaves, Both the stems and the leaves are gray-green but covered with silvery-white silky hairs which give the foliage an extremely attractive appearance, hence the common name of silky aster. The florets are replaced by achenes. These achenes are 2-3 mm. long and bullet-shaped with small tufts of hair at their apices; they are dispersed by the wind. The root system is fibrous and occasionally rhizomatous; older plants form short caudices. Occasionally, clonal offsets are produced from rhizomes.

Easily grown in acidic, dry to medium moisture, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Easily grown from seed and may self-seed in the garden.

It is an uncommon plant that appears to be declining in abundance as a result of habitat destruction. These habitats include upland dolomite prairies, gravel prairies, sand prairies, hill prairies, stabilized sand dunes, upland sandy savannas, limestone glades, and prairie remnants along railroads. This is an indicator plant of high quality habitats in dry open areas.

Plant Notes and Herbal Uses
  A high pH is tolerated.
  It does not tolerate much competition from taller ground vegetation.
  The young foliage of these plants are browsed occasionally by rabbits and deer.
Further Information

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