Doellingeria umbellata (Flat-topped White Aster)

Plant Info
Also known as: Flat-top Aster, Parasol Whitetop
Family:Asteraceae (Aster)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, sun; moist; fields, edges of woods, bogs, swamps
Bloom season:July - October
Plant height:2 to 7 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: OBL MW: FACW 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: flat

[photo of flowers] Loose to dense, flat, branching clusters up to 10 inches across at the top of the stem. Flowers are ½ to ¾ inches across with 2 to 15 irregularly spaced white petals (ray flowers) and a yellow center disk that turns dull, pale, yellowish tan with age. Light brown stamens project from the center disk flowers. Surrounding the base of the flower are 3 or 4 layers of hairless or short-hairy, awl-shaped bracts. Flower stalks are up to ¾ inch long and typically short-hairy.

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

[photo of leaves] Leaves are 3 to 6 inches long and to 1 inch wide, lance-elliptic, tapering to a point at both ends, stalkless or nearly so. The edges are toothless but rough from short hairs. Surfaces are hairless to variously hairy, or the lower surface hairy mostly along major veins. Attachment is alternate. Stems are mostly erect, unbranched except in the flowers, hairless to sparsely hairy, usually lined, and sometimes purple.

Fruit: Fruit type: seed with plume

Fruit is a dry seed with a tuft of whitish hairs to carry it off in the wind.


There are 2 recognized varieties, both of which are found in Minnesota: var. umbellata (formerly known as Aster umbellatus), and var. pubens (formerly known as Aster pubentior). The latter is more common in the state and is distinguished by more densely hairy leaves and flowers with 4 to 7 rays, where the former is more sparsely hairy to hairless and flowers with up to 15 rays.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken in Anoka County. 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: Mark - Oakdale Nature Preserve, Oakdale MN
on: 2010-07-24 21:42:06

I saw one small group of these for the first time (for me) ever this evening, just starting to bloom.

Posted by: terry S - Northern MN - Aitkin, Carlton, s St Louis Counties
on: 2017-07-28 22:57:27

The specimens that I am seeing are consistently pubescent with short, stiff hairs on both surfaces and the stem (more or less hairy on the lower stem). So much so that (along with the dark green foliage, entire margins, and distinctive venation), it's identifiable by touch during plot sampling. I will collect samples once they are in flower.

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