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Kevin Doyle

Bushy Aster (Symphyotrichum dumosum var. strictior)

Life history

Species overview

Bushy Aster (Symphyotrichum dumosum var. strictior), a Wisconsin Special Concern plant, is found in dry or moist, often sandy places, most commonly on or near the Glacial Lake Wisconsin plain. It is generally in open habitat, although there are two reports from thin or sandy woods. Blooming occurs August through October; fruiting occurs early Sept through late October. The optimal identification period for this species is mid-August through late September.

Synonyms: Aster dumosus var. strictior


  • Distinguishing characteristics: Distinguished by having small heads (less than 1.5 mm wide) on longer pedicels (1 to 5 cm long) and having pedicels with numerous bracts.
  • Flower characteristics: Flowers pale lavender to bluish, but sometimes white with 5 to 9 mm long petals.
  • Fruit characteristics: Cypselae (achene surrounded by calyx sheath) pink or with pink streaks, 1.5 to 2.5 mm, 3 to 4 prominent nerves.
  • Leaf characteristics: Linear to lance-linear to linear-elliptic in shape, 3 to 11 cm long and 3 to 10 mm wide, attached directly to the stem, rough above and smooth beneath.


  • Blooming phenology: August through October
  • Fruiting phenology: early Sept through late October
  • Optimum time to identify: The optimal identification period for this species is mid-August through late September


  • Growth form: Forb-erect
  • Vegetative reproduction: Rhizomatous
  • Life cycle: Perennial
  • Comments: Associated Species: Juncus greenei, Poa compressa, Carex umbellata, Polygonum tenue, Polygonella articulata, Drosera, rotundifolia, Lycopodium inundatum, Lobelia kalmii, Rhychospora capitellata, Spiranthes spp.

State status

Status and Natural Heritage Inventory documented occurrences in Wisconsin

The table below provides information about the protected status - state and federal - and the rank (S and G Ranks) for Bushy Aster (Symphyotrichum dumosum var. strictior). See the Working List Key for more information about abbreviations. Counties shaded blue have documented occurrences for this species in the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory database. The map is provided as a general reference of where this species has been found to date and is not meant as a range map.

Documented locations of Symphyotrichum dumosum var. strictior in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.

Summary Information
State StatusSC
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankS1
Global RankG5T4
Tracked by NHIY

Habitats and landscapes

The Natural Heritage Inventory has developed scores indicating the degree to which each of Wisconsin's rare plant species is associated with a particular natural community or ecological landscape. This information is similar to that found in the Wildlife Action Plan for animals. As this is a work in progress, we welcome your suggestions and feedback.

General habitat information

  • Habitat description: Found in dry or moist, often sandy places, most commonly on or near the Glacial Lake Wisconsin plain. It is generally in open habitat, although there are two reports from thin or sandy woods.
  • Soils: Sandy soils.

Natural communities

This table lists the natural communities that are associated with Bushy Aster. Scores for natural community associations are: "significant" association (score=3), "moderate association" (score=2) or the species can be present but is only weakly associated with the community (score=1).

Ecological landscapes

This table lists the ecological landscape association scores for Bushy Aster. The scores (3=High, 2=Moderate, 1=Low, 0=None) also correspond to the map.

Map of the Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin.

Species guidance

The Endangered Resources Program has developed avoidance measures and management guidelines for plants on the Natural Heritage Working List. These are a work in progress, and we welcome your suggestions and feedback. Sources used in developing this information can be found here.

Avoidance measures

These are specific actions designed to avoid "take" (mortality) of this species.

  • Avoid known individual plant locations and conduct operations elsewhere when they are least likely to cause damage. Ideally, this would involve frozen, snow-covered ground. However, in areas of the state where frozen conditions are unreliable, very dry soils late in the growing season might be the best available alternative. Consult with a biologist, if needed.
  • Avoid broadcast spraying of herbicides; use care with spot spraying.
  • Avoid locating landings, staging areas, or access routes in open sandy areas dominated by native grasses.

Management guidance

Management guidelines are additional considerations that may help maintain or enhance habitat for this species

  • Prescribed burns and/or brushing may be beneficial (dependent on local site conditions).
  • Minimize disturbance to hydrology, including soil disturbance from rutting.
  • Maintain and restore open habitat through selective clearing and brushing.


Bushy Aster  Photo.

Photo © Richard Bauer.

Support for Wisconsin's rare plant information has been provided by the Division of Forestry, the Endangered Resources Fund and the Wisconsin Rare Plant Preservation Fund. To donate, visit the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin [exit DNR].

Last revised: Friday, February 15, 2019
Southwest Savanna Southern Lake Michigan Coastal Western Coulees and Ridges Southeast Glacial Plains Central Sand Hills Central Lake Michigan Coastal Central Sand Plains Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northeast Sands Western Prairie North Central Forest Northern Highlands Northwest Lowlands Northwest Sands Northwest Lowlands Superior Coastal Plains Forest Transition