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Northwestern Sticky Aster (Canadanthus modestus)

Life history

Species overview

Northwestern Sticky Aster (Canadanthus modestus), a Wisconsin Special Concern plant, is found in a single wetland in Douglas county but may be found elsewhere in the boreal region in moist wooded or open areas, including bogs, alder thickets and swamps. Blooming occurs from late summer to early fall. The optimal identification period for this species is Late August to early September.

Synonyms: Aster major, Aster unalaschensis Less. var. major, Canadanthus modestus, Weberaster modestus


  • Distinguishing characteristics: Distinguished from A. novae-angliae (New England aster) by its stalkless (vs. clasping) leaves, solitary stems and green involucres.
  • Flower characteristics: Heads few to many; ray flowers purple 7 to 15 mm long; disk flowers yellow, 5 to 7 mm long; involucres green 7 to 11 mm long.
  • Fruit characteristics: Achenes hairy with prominent rib-like veins.
  • Leaf characteristics: Alternate, lanceolate, sessile (stalkless) and sparsely toothed, becoming smaller toward top of stem.


  • Blooming phenology: late summer to early fall
  • Fruiting phenology:
  • Optimum time to identify: Late August to early September


  • Growth form: Forb-erect
  • Vegetative reproduction:
  • Life cycle: Perennial
  • Comments: Associated Species: Populus tremuloides, Alnus rugosa, Cornus stolonifera, Ribes hirtellum, Salix petiolaris, Salix pyrifolia, Rubus idaeus ssp. strigosus, Athyrium filix-femina, Calamagrostis canadensis, Epilobium coloratum, Impatiens capensis, Polygonum sagittatum, Equisetum sylvaticum, Dryopteris cristata, Galium asperellum, Mentha arvensis v. villosa, Rubus pubescens, Stellaria longifolia.

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 Northwestern Sticky Aster (Canadanthus modestus). 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 Canadanthus modestus in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.

Summary Information
State StatusSC
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankS1
Global RankG5
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 a single wetland in Douglas county but may be found elsewhere in the boreal region in moist wooded or open areas, including bogs, alder thickets and swamps.
  • Soils: Clay soils.

Natural communities

This table lists the natural communities that are associated with Northwestern Sticky 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
Northern Sedge Meadow 2
Alder Thicket 3

Ecological landscapes

This table lists the ecological landscape association scores for Northwestern Sticky 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.

Northwestern Sticky Aster (Canadanthus modestus) has very few known occurrences in the state and is of the highest priority for conservation; we encourage you to consult with your District Ecologist or NHI Botanist for specific recommendations for your site.

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.

Management guidance

Management guidelines are additional considerations that may help maintain or enhance habitat for 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.
  • Avoid rapid and dramatic reductions in canopy cover or basal area in wet areas to reduce risk of swamping.
  • Survey for and control invasive plants prior to conducting timber operations, as these can be spread by vehicles and often respond vigorously to increased light; see forestry BMPs for invasive species.


Northwestern Sticky Aster  Photo.

Aster modestus

Photo © Scott Namestnik.

Northwestern Sticky Aster  Photo.

Aster modestus

Photo © Scott Namestnik.

Northwestern Sticky Aster  Photo.

Aster modestus

Photo © Scott Namestnik.

Northwestern Sticky Aster  Photo.

Aster modestus

Photo © Scott Namestnik.

Northwestern Sticky Aster  Photo.

Aster modestus

Photo © Scott Namestnik.

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: Monday, April 30, 2018
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