Symphyotrichum novae-angliae (New England Aster)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Family:Asteraceae (Aster)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, sun; moist fields, along roads, edges of woods
Bloom season:August - October
Plant height:3 to 7 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FACW 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: panicle

[photo of flowers] Branching clusters of stalked flowers at the top of the stem and arising from upper leaf axils. Branches are often leafy and crowded with flowers. Flowers are 1 to 1½ inches across with 40 to 100 narrow petals (ray flowers) and a golden yellow center that turns reddish purple with age. Ray color is purple to rose pink.

[photo of bracts (phyllaries)] The bracts (phyllaries) surrounding the base of the flower are in 3 to 5 layers, very narrow, green to purple-tinged, widely spreading, and the outer phyllaries covered in short glandular hairs. Flower stalks are up to 1½ inch long with a few narrow, leaf-like bracts below the flower. Stalks and bracts are covered in a mix of glandular and nonglandular hairs.

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

[photo of leaves] Leaves are mostly lance-oblong, some widest above the middle, 1 to 4 inches long, ½ to 1 inch wide, mostly toothless, stalkless, tapering to a pointed or rounded tip, the base with a pair of lobes (auricles) that extend around the stem and clasp it. The upper surface is rough; the underside more softly hairy. Basal leaves are more spatula-shaped and wither away by flowering time along with the lower stem leaves; upper stem leaves are often densely packed. Stems are single or multiple from the base, mostly erect, stout, brown to reddish, and covered in short, spreading hairs

Fruit: Fruit type: seed with plume

[photo of seed] Fruit is a dry, hairy seed with a tuft of light brown hairs to carry it off in the wind.


New England Aster is an important late-season food source for pollinators, blooming through October and even into November. Plant it in your garden and it's guaranteed you'll have a pollinator party until the last flower is wilted away. The flowers are easily distinguished from other blue-violet asters by the numerous narrow, purple rays (up to 100), golden yellow disk, and widely spreading narrow phyllaries. The leaves are vaguely similar to Purple-stemmed Aster (Symphyotrichum puniceum), which tend to have a longer taper to a sharply pointed tip and usually have a few small teeth around the edge.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken in Anoka, McLeod and Ramsey counties. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in private gardens in Anoka and Ramsey counties.


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

Posted by: Joe - Hennepin Co.
on: 2010-09-06 21:18:48

This is a good, colorful fall bloomer, with occasional pale pink flowers along with the usual purple or rose-pink. It can become aggressive, and volunteers sprout readily in the garden. Bees love the flowers and birds love the seeds.

Posted by: Leslie - near Rochester
on: 2014-09-28 12:22:24

I've seen many of these along the road ditches and meadows in the last month (september)

Posted by: Brian - Pine City
on: 2017-09-17 19:53:35

These are abundant here along Cross Lake Road outside of Pine City, though I see they are not shown for Pine County on the distribution map.

Posted by: Connie L - Blaine
on: 2017-09-18 07:46:10

I have a big clump of these this year.

Posted by: Marilyn - Wayzata
on: 2017-10-10 10:51:08

What does this look like during the spring-summertime? Pictures please Is it easy to keep under controll?

Posted by: Denise - Rochester
on: 2018-05-30 14:33:49

Grows and spreads well. Really attracts bees. In the spring, it is short green, growing quickly to tall green, them blooms in September. If you don't want it to take over, you will need to thin it out. I have at least four shades of flowers, from dark purple to light pink. Great for hiding things.

Posted by: Darrick Wotachek - Cambridge Mn
on: 2019-09-20 16:54:33

Have these in my rain garden in Cambridge MN. I have numerous bunches and they bloom from late August through the end of September. I have transplanted some to the bioretension garden at Christ the King Church, Cambridge MN.

Posted by: Edita Laurel - Inver Grove Heights
on: 2020-09-22 19:29:59

I love these asters. I have a profusion of yellows, yellow whites/purples. Some flowers have bigger flowers. They really color the Fall season and pollinators love them!

Posted by: Steve T - Rosemount
on: 2020-09-25 19:26:31

Moved into a new subdivision in 2017 and Rosemount built a new City park playground nearby. I am guessing they may have seeded the natural edges of the park with native wildflower seeds as this purple aster as well as other native wildflowers are growing nicely in the disturbed edges of the park.

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