Family: Asteraceae

Scientific Name: Aster novae-angliae

Common Name: New England Showy Aster (native sites)


New England Aster (Aster novae-angliae) Undoubtedly one of the showiest of the fall-blooming plants. A good source of food for butterflies and easy to grow.

Plant TypeWild Flowers, Site author's observations
Hardiness Zoneat least 3-6
Sunlightfull sun
Moistureprefers moist, tolerates average
Soil & SiteIt is native to the mesic, wet prairie and prefers this type of soil. I have found this to be a fairly adaptable plant. When a new addition was put onto Franklin High School, all the spoils from the excavation was dumped on a back field and leveled. Over the past 25 years Mother Nature has reclaimed this site and the Aster has become a member of this community. The soil is in general just junky clay.
Flowers1-2" purple to blue-violet with orange centers, 35-45 petals (rays), flower stalks covered with sticky hairs and blooming in the fall.
LeavesTends to lose the leaves towards the bottom of the stem (naked legs). One suggestion I have heard to prevent this is pinch the plants in May, to keep them a bit shorter. Leaves are larger toward the base of the plant.
Dimensionsdepending on the site 3-5 feet
Maintenancein a garden site, they should be cut back at least 50% or more at the end of May to early June
PropagationI collected seeds from this Aster and conducted a germination test. Seeds that were cold stratified had a very high rate of germination. Unstratified seeds had little to no germination.
Misc FactsGenus name comes from the Greek symph meaning coming together and trich meaning hair in a possible reference to the flower anthers. Genus means of New England, USA. (#144) SYN: Symphyotrichum novae-angliae, AKA: Showy Aster
Author's NotesEvery year I watch this plant bloom and marvel at its fall display. It attracts Butterfly's. I have three large plants in my garden. They provide good color in September and early October.
Notes & Reference#07- Newcomb's Wildflower Guide (Newcomb) ,#09-The Prairie Garden (J. Robert Smith with Beatrice Smith), #12-How Indians Used Wild Plants for Food, Medicine and Crafts (Frances Densmore), #144-Missouri Botanical Gardens web site (
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