Symphyotrichum ericoides

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Symphyotrichum ericoides
S. ericoides in Green Lake County, Wisconsin

Secure  (NatureServe)[1]
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Asterales
Family: Asteraceae
Tribe: Astereae
Subtribe: Symphyotrichinae
Genus: Symphyotrichum
Subgenus: Symphyotrichum subg. Virgulus
S. ericoides
Binomial name
Symphyotrichum ericoides
  • S. ericoides var. ericoides
  • S. ericoides var. pansum (S.F.Blake) G.L.Nesom
Symphyotrichum ericoides native distribution map: Canada — Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Northwest Territories, Ontario, Québec, and Saskatchewan; Mexico — Coahuila and Nuevo León; US — Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
Native distribution[2][3]


  • Aster ericoides L.
    • Aglotoma multiflora Raf.
    • Aster ciliatus Willd.
    • Aster commutatus var. polycephalus (Rydb.) S.F.Blake
    • Aster ericoides f. caeruleus S.F.Blake
    • Aster ericoides f. exiguus Fernald
    • Aster ericoides f. gramsii Benke
    • Aster ericoides f. polycephalus (Rydb.) F.C.Gates
    • Aster ericoides f. prostratus (Kuntze) Fernald
    • Aster ericoides var. prostratus S.F.Blake
    • Aster ericoides var. randii Britton
    • Aster ericoides var. reevesii A.Gray
    • Aster exiguus Rydb.
    • Aster glabellus Nees
    • Aster hebecladus DC.
    • Aster leptophyllus DC.
    • Aster multiflorus Aiton
    • Aster multiflorus var. caeruleus Benke
    • Aster multiflorus var. ciliatus (Willd.) W.P.C.Barton
    • Aster multiflorus var. exiguus Fernald
    • Aster multiflorus var. prostratus Kuntze
    • Aster pauciflorus M.Martens
    • Aster pilosus var. reevesii S.F.Blake
    • Aster polycephalus Rydb.
    • Aster × pseudodumosus (Thell.) Bergmans
    • Aster ramosissimus Mill.
    • Aster reevesii (A.Gray) G.Nicholson
    • Aster reversii Decne.
    • Aster scoparius DC.
    • Aster subulatus Steud.
    • Aster tenuifolius Willd.
    • Eucephalus ericoides Nutt.
    • Galatella leptophylla Nees
    • Lasallea ericoides (L.) Semple & Brouillet
    • Symphyotrichum ericoides f. gramsii (Benke) G.Wilh. & Rericha
    • Symphyotrichum ericoides var. prostratum (Kuntze) G.L.Nesom
    • Virgulus ericoides (L.) Reveal & Keener
var. pansum
    • Aster ericoides subsp. pansus (S.F.Blake) A.G.Jones
    • Aster ericoides var. pansus (S.F.Blake) B.Boivin
    • Aster ericoides var. stricticaulis (Torr. & A.Gray) F.C.Gates
    • Aster multiflorus var. pansus S.F.Blake
    • Aster multiflorus var. stricticaulis Torr. & A.Gray
    • Aster pansus (S.F.Blake) Cronquist
    • Aster stricticaulis Rydb.
    • Symphyotrichum ericoides subsp. pansum (S.F.Blake) Semple
    • Symphyotrichum ericoides var. stricticaule (Torr. & A.Gray) G.L.Nesom
    • Virgulus ericoides subsp. pansus (S.F.Blake) Á.Löve & D.Löve
    • Virgulus ericoides var. pansus (S.F.Blake) Reveal & Keener

Symphyotrichum ericoides (formerly Aster ericoides), known as white heath aster,[4] frost aster,[5] or heath aster,[6] is a species of flowering plant in the family Asteraceae native to much of central and eastern North America. It has been introduced to parts of Europe and western Asia.[2]

The naturally-occurring hybrid species of white heath aster and New England aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae) is named Symphyotrichum × amethystinum and is commonly known as amethyst aster. It can grow where the two parents are in close proximity.


Heath aster is a perennial herbaceous plant with stems from 30 to 91 centimeters (1 to 3 feet) tall.[6] Its leaves are sessile (stalkless) and narrow, becoming smaller towards the top of the plant and tips of the branching stem. It has white (rarely pinkish), composite flowerheads with yellow centers that begin flowering in late summer and last through fall.[7][8] They are 8 to 10 millimeters (13 to 12 inch) across.[6][5]

It is commonly confused with Symphyotrichum pilosum, which co-occurs throughout most of its range.[7][9][2][10] S. pilosum has larger flowerheads with longer ray petals. The phyllaries on S. pilosum are spine-tipped, while those of S. ericoides are not, although the curled edges may make them appear to be.[7]


Heath aster has two varieties: Symphyotrichum ericoides var. ericoides, which spreads by underground rhizomes to form colonies, and S. ericoides var. pansum (S.F.Blake) G.L.Nesom, which is cespitose, remaining in a clump, and has corm-like caudices.[3][11]

F1 hybridization with Symphyotrichum novae-angliae can occur where the ranges of these two species overlap. The hybrid is called Symphyotrichum × amethystinum (amethyst aster)[12] and is intermediate between the parent species in most respects.[13]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Symphyotrichum ericoides grows from Canada across much of the United States into the Mexican states of Coahuila and Nuevo León.[7] The variety S. ericoides var. ericoides prefers open locations with sandy, gravelly, or disturbed soil.[3]


As of October 2022, NatureServe listed S. ericoides as Secure (G5) globally, last reviewed on 16 May 2016. On a US state and Canadian province and territory basis, it listed the species as Vulnerable (S3) in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia; Imperiled (S2) in Mississippi; Critically Imperiled (S1) in Georgia and Kentucky; Apparently Secure (S4) in Iowa, Manitoba, Maryland, and Northwest Territories; and, Secure (S5) in Alberta, British Columbia, Montana, New York, Ontario, and Saskatchewan. It is reported as an Exotic in Québec. The remaining states, territories, and provinces have not been ranked.[1]



Symphyotrichum ericoides has been used for medicinal purposes among indigenous people in North America. It has been documented that the Meskwaki have used the plant both to revive an unconscious person[14] and in a sweatbath as an herbal steam.[15]


Cultivars of Symphyotrichum ericoides are planted in gardens. Plants sold in the horticultural trade labeled as Aster ericoides, the old name of the plant, are usually cultivars or hybrids involving the species S. dumosum, S. lateriflorum, S. pilosum or S. racemosum, a mistake that has occurred continuously since the 19th century.[7]

The following are cultivars of S. ericoides that have gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit:[16]

  • 'Blue Star'[17]
  • 'Brimstone'[18]
  • 'Golden Spray'[19]
  • 'Pink Cloud'[20]
  • 'Ringdove'[21]
  • 'Snow Flurry' (of S. ericoides var. prostratum)[22]



External links[edit]