HEATH ASTER
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Symphyotrichum ericoides   (L. ) G.L. Nesom
[=Aster ericoides L.]
Konza Prairie, Riley County, Kansas
Perennial
Height: 1-3 feet
Family: Asteraceae - Sunflower Family
Flowering Period:   September,October
Also Called: White aster, many-flowered aster.
Stems: Ascending or erect to almost prostrate, few to many, often clustered, slender, stiff, much-branched, rough hairy above.
Leaves: Alternate, simple, sessile or slightly clasping, linear to linear-lanceolate, 1/2 to 2 inches long, less than 1/4 inch wide, rigid, rough; margins entire; tips pointed; branch leaves much smaller and crowded; most basal and lower stem leaves absent at flowering.
Inflorescences: Panicles of numerous, densely crowded heads, primarily on 1 side of arching branches.
Flowers: Heads cylindric to bell-shaped, less than 1/2 inch across; bracts strongly overlapping, tipped with bristles; ray florets 10-18, white or rarely pinkish; disk florets 5-14, corollas yellowish to reddish purple.
Fruits: Achenes, small, appressed-hairy, purplish brown, tipped with white, hair-like bristles, enclosing small, silky seed.
Habitat: Dry open prairies, disturbed sites, pastures, and roadsides.
Distribution: Throughout Kansas.
Toxicity: Known to accumulate selenium, but livestock rarely consume it.
Comments: This is the most common Kansas aster. It grows in colonies and is drought hardy, with roots that descend 3 to 8 feet. Heath aster is one of the last plants to remain in flower in the autumn. Heath aster lowers the quality of prairie hay.

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