Boltonia asteroides (False Aster)

Plant Info
Also known as: White Doll's Eyes, White Doll's Daisy
Family:Asteraceae (Aster)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, sun; moist soil; floodplains, shorelines, wet fields, thickets
Bloom season:July - October
Plant height:3 to 6 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FACW MW: OBL NCNE: FACW
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

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

[photo of flowers] Leafy, open cluster of daisy like flowers, ¾ to 1¼ inches across, 20 to 60 narrow white to bluish rays (petals) and yellow button-like disk in center, on a slender stalk to 1½ inches long.

[photo of bracts] Flower bracts are very narrow and over lapping like shingles, in 3 to 5 rows.

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

[photo of leaves] Leaves are alternate, lance-elliptic, up to 6 inches long, to ¾ inch wide, toothless and hairless, tapering to a blunt tip and tapered stalk at the base, becoming smaller as they ascend the stem. Stems and leaves are smooth with a whitish, waxy surface. Multiple stems, tall and slender, arise from the underground root-like branches (rhizomes), becoming heavily branched in the flower cluster.

Fruit: Fruit type: seed without plume

The flower produces a small nondescript seed head; the fine seed is nearly plumeless.


False Aster is most commonly found in moist habitats along streams and lake shores. The large showy clouds of flowers do not become apparent until late into August, continuing into the fall. It will perform well in the home garden though the root system can be aggressive and require periodic containment weeding. It is distinguished from other daisy-like flowers by the relatively large button-like disk in the center of the flower, and the narrow bracts that resemble one of the fleabanes more than other asters. There are 2 varieties in Minnesota: var. recognita and var. latisquama. As far as we can determine, the subtle differences are in the floral bracts.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park, Anoka County, and Lilydale Park, St. Paul. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Anoka County.


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

Posted by: Julie - Moose Lake
on: 2011-09-30 13:40:04

Carlton County - in my garden.

Posted by: Pat - My garden, Meeker co.
on: 2012-02-15 14:23:55

This is a spectacular plant for the wet garden area. Another name is "Thousand Flower Aster". When in bloom, it smothers anything underneath it. There is even a pinkish form. I well recommend it for the garden.

Posted by: Amy - Richville
on: 2015-09-04 12:02:20

There is a beautiful specimen growing by the dam and boat launch on the Ottertail Lake/Ottertail River off of cty hwy 72.

Posted by: James - Rochester
on: 2019-09-27 21:50:40

I have one in my front yard. It appeared as a weed last year, but I left it alone. Now, it's big. And pollinators love it.

Posted by: Olga Zenteno - Beaver Island trails, St Cloud, Stearns County MN
on: 2020-09-04 21:20:28

Just saw this plant today 9/4/20 just off of Beaver Island Trails in St Cloud Stearns County MN. Beautiful.

Posted by: Phoenix - Minneapolis
on: 2020-09-22 19:32:42

They have come up in my garden on the south side of Minneapolis. It's fantastic to see all the pollinators on the flowers in the fall.

Posted by: Brian - Anderson Lake County Park, Renville County
on: 2021-08-20 17:49:52

I found a few of these plants in a backwater of the Minnesota River on August 12, 2021 in Anderson Lake County Park. They were spectacular, and this was my first sighting of this species. A good visit.

Posted by: KR - Elk River
on: 2021-10-03 14:19:50

These have come up all around my landscaping it's nothing I planted. I have a ton of pollinators and a family of chipmunks and lots of birds and hummingbirds. I think my chipmunk plant things all over I have a ton huge sunflowers and my wave petunias from pots years ago now grow all over my backyard like crazy. I love seeing what new pops up that will bloom. When I cut everything down I put in woods behind house and that has grown to be so many flowers for wildlife. This year my hummingbird visits was so large it was crazy became a full-time job feeding them.

Posted by: Brian - Traverse des Sioux Park, St. Peter
on: 2022-09-14 23:31:44

Spectacular masses of Boltonia asteroides are flowering right now in Traverse des Sioux Park (next to the Minnesota River) in St. Peter. They are in backwater areas just to the east of the History Center.

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