Synonym:  Aster pilosus  Willd. *

              

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Perennials.  Stems are solitary or clustered from a branched caudex.  Robust, multi-stem plants often appear bushy.  Stems of variety pilosum are typically densely pubescent, with hairs that are long, spreading and sometimes rough. Stems of variety pringlei are mostly glabrous or slightly pubescent.  Typical height is from 2 to 4 feet.

Inflorescences often appear "pyramidal" in shape, with widely spreading branches; the summits sometimes arching.  Flower heads are radiate.  Heads are distributed along the entire length of the branch in a nearly one-sided arrangement.  Rays are white.  Disc floret corollas are yellow, turning reddish with age. Involucres are often bell-shaped, swollen toward the base during flowering.  Involucral bracts are usually spreading and recurved, and armed with a minute, spine-like tip.  Dark green zones vary from lanceolate to diamond-shaped.

Basal leaves are deciduous by flowering.  For variety pilosum, mid- to upper stem leaves vary from linear to oblanceolate, often pubescent and ciliate.  For variety pringlei, mid- to upper stem leaves are linear and glabrous.  Branch leaves are characteristically ascending.

Plants of open, disturbed sites, often in sandy or otherwise poor soils; successional fields, thickets, roadsides.  Flowers mid-September to late October.  Native.

Two varieties are generally recognized, distinguished primarily by stem and leaf pubescence:

S. pilosum (Willd.) G.L. Nesom var. pilosum
S. pilosum
(Willd.) G.L. Nesom var. pringlei (A. Gray) G.L. Nesom

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Where the two varieties co-occur, they sometimes cross, resulting in intermediate forms being present; identification to variety may be difficult in such cases.

Similar species:  Symphyotrichum lanceolatum.  S. ericoides has often been mistaken for S. pilosum, but collections in central New York state have been rare.

* Additional synonyms:
     Aster pilosus  Willd.  var.  demotus  S.F.  Blake
     Aster pringlei   (A. Gray)  N.L.  Britton

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