Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Name That Plant - Aster lanceolatus var. hirsuticaulis

I recently posted the following plant quiz...

This one probably isn't for the faint of botanical heart. I've included several photos to hopefully give someone enough to come up with the name of this plant. Tony shouldn't participate by providing an answer, as he was with me when we saw this plant in Douglas County, Wisconsin. Good luck!

Underside of leaf

Top of leaf

Leaf venation

Stem and leaves
Below are a couple of additional photographs of this plant.

The best that I can tell, this is Aster lanceolatus var. hirsuticaulis, a hairy-stemmed variety of Aster lanceolatus. Aside from the fairly densely pubescent stem and pubescent leaf undersides, this variety looks like Aster lanceolatus var. lanceolatus. I have only ever seen this hairy-stemmed variety in Douglas County, Wisconsin, though it is said to occur also in Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, and Minnesota, as well as in Ontaria and Manitoba.

Anonymous had guessed Aster lanceolatus ssp. hesperius, a more western species that ranges east into Wisconsin. The stems of this species are said in Flora of North America to be "glabrous or at most hairy in lines." In addition, the flowering heads of this species are subtended by large leaf-like bracts, and the outer phyllaries are 2/3 as long as the inner ones (versus 1/3 to 2/3 as long as the inner ones in A. lanceolatus var. hirsuticaulis). Without the last two photos that I've posted, you wouldn't have been able to see these floral characters.

Nice job to all who made guesses, as all were very close and my photos weren't that good.


Tom said...

A guess: Symphyotrichum praealtum

Scott Namestnik said...

A good guess, Tom, but Symphyotrichum praealtum (or Aster praealtus) would have isodiametric venation visible in the "leaf venation" photo.

Tom said...

I was thinking that you might be trying to show that interesting venation pattern on praealtum- I was viewing the post on my ipod so the pictures were really really teeny! I'm anxious to learn what this is.


Scott Namestnik said...

Hey Tom. The fact that you were viewing the photos on a small screen makes Aster praealtus an even better guess!

Justin Thomas said...

Dang, Scott! This is one monster of a quiz.

Though I don't like the hairiness, and since Tom kindly eliminated A. praealtus, I'm going with Aster borealis.

note: I continue to fail to see any validity or usefulness in the "science" behind the genus Symphyotrichum.

Scott Namestnik said...

Another good guess, Justin, but that's not it, either. Considering the little amount of information you've got to go on (a blurry stem photo and some leaf photos), both Aster praealtus and A. borealis are good guesses. You're both very close, and the hairiness is an important part of making the identification of this plant.

Anonymous said...

Looks like Aster simplex to me. Simplex-complex as I have heard it referred to in Chicago region...A.lanceolata by one of its other names..or what ever it translate to as Symphyotrichym....

Anonymous said...

Is it this?

info from

'Family Asteraceae
Aster hesperius A.Gray
Western lined aster
Aster: from the Greek aster, "a star," describing the radiate heads of the flowers
hesperius: Greek for "western" or "evening"

Status: Native
Plant: erect, perennial, 2'-5' tall forb; long, colony-forming rhizomes
Flower: head 1/3"-1" wide with 20-40 blue to white rays; inflorescence long, leafy clusters with many heads
Leaf: only along the stem, usually entire, lance-like
Habitat: moist; low areas
Notes: very similar to A. lanceolatus but with leaves more often entire"

A.simplex (lanceolatus), as I know it has, has hair on stem but not underside of leaf and with more teeth..... so I retract

So if A. hespereris have hairs along midvein (as in your photo) as well as on stem like A. simplex/lanceolatus(um) (sic.)...could it that one?

Scott Namestnik said...

Very close, anonymous... see my updated post...

Justin Thomas said...

Well now I've seen it all! That was a wild ride. So, how is a fella going to tell that from A. ontarionis?

Scott Namestnik said...

Well, of course, by the length of the disc corolla lobes!

When I have seen Aster ontarionis, the hairiness on the undersides of the leaves has been evenly soft pubescent, whereas that of A. lanceolatus var. hirsuticaulis has been more focused on the midvein and more coarsely pubescent. The leaf length to width ratio on the plants of A. lanceolatus var. hirsuticaulis that I've seen has also been greater than that of A. ontarionis. I've only seen both of these species a couple of times, so I can't say that these are useful characters, but that's all I've got vegetatively at present.