Share your observations

Share your observations of plants or non-game animals with the Natural Heritage Inventory

Rare animals
Find rare and non-game animals.
Rare plants
Learn about plants on the Natural Heritage Working List.
Rare lichens
Discover Wisconsin's lichens.
Natural communities
Explore Wisconsin's natural communities.
Other features
Discover unique resources.
Rare plant monitoring annual report

Catch up with the latest news in rare plant monitoring efforts throughout Wisconsin.

Eagle license plate

Help care for rare plants and animals by ordering an Endangered Resources plate.

Contact information
For information on Wisconsin's rare plants, contact:
Kevin Doyle

Fragile-stemmed Aster (Symphyotrichum racemosum var. subdumosum)

Life history

Species overview

Fragile-stemmed Aster (Symphyotrichum racemosum var. subdumosum), a plant, is found mostly in moist, usuallly sandy, open places, primarily in the former lake basin of Glacial Lake Wisconsin. Blooming occurs August through October; fruiting occurs October through November. The optimal identification period for this species is mid August through late September.

Synonyms: Aster vimineus var. subdumosus, Aster fragilis var. subdumosus, Symphyotrichum racemosum


  • Distinguishing characteristics:
  • Flower characteristics: Ray florets 16 to 20, usually white; disc florets 10 to 20, pale yellow, becoming pink or red.
  • Fruit characteristics: Gray to tan cypselae (achene surrounded by calyx sheath).
  • Leaf characteristics: Thin, with margins revolute, often with clusters of small leaves in axils.


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


  • Growth form: Forb-erect
  • Vegetative reproduction:
  • Life cycle: Perennial
  • Comments: Associated Species: Eleocharis acicularis, Carex spp., Scirpus spp., Polygonum hydropiperoides, P. careyi.

State status

Status and Natural Heritage Inventory documented occurrences in Wisconsin

Fragile-stemmed Aster (Symphyotrichum racemosum var. subdumosum) is on the "watch list." Watch list species have experienced, or are believed to have experienced, a statewide or range wide decline, but they are not currently tracked in the Natural Heritage Inventory (NHI) database. The watch list includes newly discovered species for which origin and rarity need to be determined, certain animals designated as Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) in the Wisconsin Wildlife Action Plan, and species that were tracked in the past but proved more abundant, widespread or less vulnerable than previously thought. Although watch list species are not actively tracked by NHI, occurrences documented during surveys are often stored by NHI, as these species could be tracked in the future if there is further evidence of their decline.

Summary Information
State Statusnone
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankSNA
Global RankG4G5T3T5Q
Tracked by NHIW

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 mostly in moist, usuallly sandy, open places, primarily in the former lake basin of Glacial Lake Wisconsin.
  • Soils: Moist, sandy soils.

Natural communities

This table lists the natural communities that are associated with Fragile-stemmed 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).

Natural communities score

Ecological landscapes

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

Map of the Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin.

Ecological landscape score

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

  • No guidance has been developed for this species.


Fragile-stemmed Aster Photo.

Scanned specimen courtesy of Wisconsin Herbarium

Fragile-stemmed Aster Photo.

Scanned specimen courtesy of Wisconsin Herbarium

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: Wednesday, May 05, 2021
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