Symphyotrichum puniceum (Purple-stemmed Aster)

Plant Info
Also known as: Red-stem Aster, Swamp Aster
Genus:Symphyotrichum
Family:Asteraceae (Aster)
Life cycle:perennial
Origin:native
Habitat:part shade, sun; moist soil; swamps, along shores, edges of woods, thickets
Bloom season:August - October
Plant height:1 to 7 feet
USDA PLANTS database:Minnesota county distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 7+petals Cluster type: panicle

[photo of flowers] Flowers are in an open cluster on branching stems near the top of the plant. Individual flowers are from 1 to 1½ inches across with 30 to 60 slender, pale violet to blue-violet petals (ray flowers) and a yellow center disk that turns reddish purple with maturity. The bracts are very narrow and peel back away from the flower.

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are dark green, to 10 inches long and 1¼ inch wide, tapering to a sharp point at the tip, with fine widely spaced teeth and a prominent center vein. Attachment is alternate; leaves clasp the main stem and those near the base of the plant may drop off by flowering time. The texture is bristly.

[photo of stem] There are short hairs along the central vein on the underside of the leaf. The main stem usually becomes reddish purple as the plant matures and is sparsely to densely covered in stiff white hairs.

Please visit our sponsors

  • Must have book for 2014: Pollinators of Native Plants

Where to buy native seed and plants ↓

Map of native plant purveyors in the upper midwest

  • Minnesota Native Landscapes - Your Ecological Problem Solvers
  • Natural Shore Technologies - Using science to improve land and water
  • Itasca Ladyslipper Farm - Native orchids, container grown
  • Prairie Restorations - Bringing people together with the land
  • Shop for native seeds and plants at PrairieMoon.com!

More photos

Photos taken at Vadnais/Snail Lake Regional Park, Shoreview, MN August-September 2008

Comments

Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Kaye in Brooklyn Park
on: 2011-07-15 10:27:33

Actually, I am not sure if what I have/see is a purple-stemmed aster, but this seems to be the closest (when looking at the pictures you have uploaded). The leaves are the same, the color, too, and most everything about the flower depicts the purple-stemmed variety. So, I know that it's an aster. However, the petals are a lot more profuse, thinner. Does anyone know what kind of aster this would be?

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2011-07-15 10:53:36

Kaye, there are similarities between purple-stemmed aster and New England aster. It typically has more numerous and narrower rays as you describe, and is also usually a deeper purple color. The leaves tend to be shorter and a bit more blunt at the tip than purple-stemmed. Maybe that was it.

Posted by: Bob in the Zim-Sax Bog, St. Louis County
on: 2012-08-21 20:56:21

I've come across an Aster that might be the same as what Kaye is referring to. The one I found has most of the same characteristics as listed for the Purple-stemmed Aster except this one has a green stem (though the plant may just be young), has 14 slender, pale violet to blue-violet petals (with one flower approaching 15), the bracts are flush and the leaves, while finely toothed, are only up to 4-5 inches long and 1-2 inches wide, maybe more. Each leaf is also positioned directly under a new branch. The other asters listed don't seem to have the finely toothed leaves combined with the dense, fine hair that gives a coarse feel.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2012-08-21 21:30:43

Bob, if the flowers only have 14 or so rays, it would not likely be purple-stemmed aster, which has at least 30, plus spreading bracts and longer, narrower leaves than you describe. If you have some images of your mystery aster post them on our Facebook page and we'll see if we can give you a confirmed ID.

Post a comment

Note: All comments are moderated before posting to keep the riff-raff out. An email address is required, but will not be posted—it will only be used for information exchange between the 2 of us (if needed) and will never be given to a 3rd party without your express permission.

For info on subjects other than plant identification (gardening, invasive species control, edible plants, etc.), please check the links and invasive species pages for additional resources.



(required)




Note: Comments or information about plants outside of Minnesota and neighboring states may not be posted because Id like to keep the focus of this web site centered on Minnesota. Thanks for your understanding.