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Forked Aster (Eurybia furcata)

Life history

Species overview

Forked Aster (Eurybia furcata), a Wisconsin Threatened plant, is found in dry-mesic to mesic hardwoods, often adjacent to lakes or streams, or on slopes with dolomite near the surface. Blooming occurs early August through early October; fruiting occurs late August through early October. The optimal identification period for this species is late August through late September.

Synonyms: Aster furcatus, Aster furcatus f. elaciniatus, Aster furcatus f. erythractis, Aster furcatus var. elaciniatus


  • Distinguishing characteristics: Whitish flowers; leaves rough above and with densely spreading hairs underneath; basal leaves cordate.
  • Flower characteristics: White, becoming lilac or rosy colored with age; flower heads are flat or round-topped; petals 8 to 15 mm in length.
  • Fruit characteristics: Cypselae (achene surrounded by calyx sheath) brown, 3 to 3.5 mm, faces usually with minute, stiff, sharply appressed hairs.
  • Leaf characteristics: Upper leaves more or less sessile, oval to lance-shaped, 6 to 15 cm x 3 to 8 cm, with serrated edges, thick and firm, rough on the upper side, and densely hairly below; lower leaves have heart-shaped bases with long petioles and prominent veins.


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


  • Growth form: Forb-erect
  • Vegetative reproduction: Rhizomatous
  • Life cycle: Perennial
  • Comments: Associated Species: Quercus rubra, Q. alba, Populus tremuloides, Acer negundo, Tilia americana, Fraxinus pennsylvanica, Jeffersonia dyphylla, Aster lateriflorus, Solidago flexicaulis.

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 Forked Aster (Eurybia furcata). 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 Eurybia furcata in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.

Summary Information
State StatusTHR
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankS3
Global RankG3
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-mesic to mesic hardwoods, often adjacent to lakes or streams, or on slopes with dolomite near the surface.
  • Soils: Moist, calcareous soils.

Natural communities

This table lists the natural communities that are associated with Forked 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 Forked 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 disturbing sandy or rocky ridges in forests where this species has been found.
  • 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.

Management guidance

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

  • Although maintaining high overall forest canopy is important, silvicultural techniques which open small gaps in the canopy may be beneficial to this species.
  • Minimize disturbance to hydrology, including soil disturbance from rutting.
  • Follow BMPs, especially around streams and use care near ravines, steep slopes, cliffs, rock outcrops, etc.


Forked Aster Photo.

The Wisconsin distribution of forked aster is limited to the southeastern counties. It is globally rare and an inhabitant of hardwood forests. Waukesha County.

Photo © Robert H. Read.

Forked Aster Photo.

Photo by Kelly Kearns, Wisconsin DNR.

Forked Aster Photo.

The forked aster is a globally rare plant that has been found in forests and woodlands at several sites in southeastern Wisconsin.

Photo by Ryan O'Connor, Wisconsin DNR.

Forked Aster Photo.

Photo by Ryan O'Connor, Wisconsin DNR.

Forked Aster Photo.

Photo © Chris Noll.

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