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Wisconsin Plant of the Week

Aster pilosus Willd.

Asteraceae (Aster or Sunflower Family)

Common Name:

frost aster


Frost Aster is a native perennial common in wet to dry fields, roadsides and other disturbed areas. It grows in clumps to 1 m tall from a creeping rhizome. Plants are stiffly branching with long soft hairs on the stem.  Leaves are alternate, up to 4 cm long, pointed at the base and the tip and hairy on both the upper and lower surfaces.

Ray flowers are white on heads about 1 cm across.  From the side the heads are urn-shaped or constricted in the middle.  The phyllaries and bracts around the inflorescence have inrolled awl-like tips. They bloom from August to November, lasting longer into the fall than other asters.

Although its indicator status suggests it's an upland species, Frost Aster grows well in disturbed wet meadows and as a nurse or pioneer plant in wet meadow restorations until other species become established.

Frost Aster is similar to Heath Aster (A. ericoides), which also has small white flowers, but whose leaves are much more narrow and whose phyllaries lack awl-like tips.

  • Origin of the name: Aster, Gr., star; pilosus, L., with long soft hairs
  • Range:  ME to GA, w to MN, NE
  • WI Range:  Statewide
  • Common associates: Yarrow, ragweed, bluegrass, common milkweed
  • Wetland Indicator Status: FACU+
  • Coefficient of Conservatism: C = 0 (S&W), C = 1 (MI)
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