Symphyotrichum cordifolium (L.) Nesom

Remark The words or terms in red (actually dark orange) in the text are defined in a glossary.


sep_18_01.gthmb can't be loaded. Symphyotrichum cordifolium (previously know as Aster cordifolius) is an erect native perennial forb of North America. The plant belongs to the Asteraceae family.

Name

In Greek : so that Symphyotrichum would refer to a plant having fruits with pappus and growing together, the case of the disk florets.

In Latin, cor, cordis means heart, and folium means leave; the epithet refers then to the heart shaped leaves.

As for the old genus name, Aster, in Greek, αστηρ (aster) means star, and the genus name refers then to the shape of the flower head.

Common names

Some of the vernacular names of Symphyotrichum cordifolium are: Common Blue Wood Aster, Swordleaf Wood Aster, Common Blue Heart-leaved Aster and Rice Button Aster. (In French it's all of Aster à feuilles cordées).

Synonyms

Symphyotrichum cordifolium has also been known as: and so many synonyms must mean that this is a plant with a large and frequent distribution!

Identification

Symphyotrichum cordifolium is somewhat easy to identify by its heart-shaped leaves and its dense rounded panicle of blue to lavender flowerheads. A somewhat similar species is Aster macrophyllus that has much larger leaves, not as deeply cleft, with the flowerheads usually white instead of blue, and in a flat-topped instead of rounded panicle.

Description

Symphyotrichum cordifolium is 1 to 4 feet tall, and little to many branched. The smooth light green to reddish brown stems have lines of white hairs; they often become glabrous with age. The plant hybridizes freely with other members of its genus. Occasionally the foliage is affected by powdery mildew and other diseases during the fall. sep_18_19.gthmb can't be loaded.

Leaves

Flower heads

Fruits

An achene with a small pappus produced by the disk florets.

Remarks

Historically Symphyotrichum cordifolium was used in medicine including as an aromatic nerve tonic, in the treatment of rheumatism, and the leaves were used in tea. The natives smoked roots to attract deer for hunting!

Symphyotrichum cordifolium is the first American Aster of the scientific literature. It was described by Cornut in 1635 under the name Asteriscus latifolius autumnalis.

Habitat

The preference of Symphyotrichum cordifolium is light shade or partial sun, mesic to slightly dry conditions, a soil that is light (sandy), medium (loamy), heavy (clay) or rock but well-drained. It cannot grow in the shade. It is found in open woods, clearings and thickets, woodland borders, areas adjacent to woodland paths, thinly wooded bluffs, and shady riverbanks.

Distribution

map_na.jpg can't be loaded. Symphyotrichum cordifolium is found in eastern North America, from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to Ontario and Minnesota, south to Georgia and Missouri. The map, from FLora of North Amercia, show the US States and Canadian provinces where the plant can be found.

Gallery

The photos of the gallery were taken either with one of the following: The title in the window shows the date when the picture was taken, i.e. jan_30_06... would mean that the photo was taken on the 30th of January, the 06 is for the 6th picture taken that day.

The month, day and picture number might be followed by a letter:

and if there is no letter it's obviously the Minolta.

Click on the thumbnails to get larger view. The original photos are usually in TIFF format, the photos shown are generally in JPEG format, usually of dimension one half (surface one quarter) for loading time reduction.

Plants

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Leaves

The picture to the right is a scan at 300 dpi, followed by a 1/2 size reduction (1/4 area reduction).

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Flowers heads and fruits

The picture on the right is a scan at 1200 dpi.

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