Calico Aster



Botanical Name:  Symphyotrichum lateriflorum

Common Name:  Calico Aster, Starved Aster, White Woodland Aster, Side-Flowering Aster

Description:  This is such a pretty, very dainty Florida native perennial. Grows somewhat bushy but still dainty, and typically grows to 2-3’ tall with a slightly smaller spread. This is a late summer into fall blooming plant. Attracts native bees such as sweat bees, miner bees, and hoverflies, along with other beneficial insects, so it’s good for Integrated Pest Management. It grows best in part sun, part shade, or shade in moist, well drained soil. Tolerates periodic flooding, which means it’s good for the rain garden. Tolerates some drought, but looks better when given supplemental water during drought times.

The flowers of calico aster are small compared to most Symphyotrichum species. They look like tiny daisy flowers with an average of 7–15 short white ray florets. The flower centers, composed of disk florets, begin as cream to yellow and often become pink, purple, or brown as they mature. There are roughly 8–16 disk florets, each with five lobes that strongly reflex (bend backwards) when open. The mostly hairless leaves have a characteristic hairy midrib on their back faces, and branching is usually horizontal or in what can appear to be a zigzag pattern. Flower heads grow along one side of the branches and sometimes in clusters at the ends.

This looks a lot like the adorable daisy fleabane, but daisy fleabane blooms spring into summer, and calico aster blooms summer into fall.

Its native habitat is relatively shaded habitats, dry to humus soils, usually deciduous woodlands (beech–maple, oak–hickory, mixed hardwoods), sometimes conifer woods, sometimes swamp forests (conifer or deciduous), edges of woods, meadows, usually rocky or sandy stream and pond shores, roadsides.

This plant in 1-gallon containers is 8-15″ tall.

This plant in 3-gallon containers is 1-2′ tall.

Plant Lore:  It has been used by indigenous Americans as a medicinal plant. Genus name, Symphyotrichum, comes from the Greek symph meaning coming together and trich meaning hair in possible reference to the flower anthers. Specific epithet, lateriflorum, is a combination of the Latin words for side and flower in reference to the fact that the flowers of this species generally are located on one side of the stems, hence the sometimes used common name of side-flowering aster. The common name, calico aster, refers to the fact that the heads are at first yellow and later turn purplish-red, so that flowers on one plant and even a single head may include both colors at the same time.

Florida Hardiness Zones 8 – 9

Additional information

Container Size

1-gallon, 3-gallon


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