Aster macrophyllus

Large Leaf Aster

Aster macrophyllus, Large Leaf Aster, Photo © by Earl J.S. Rook
Large Leaf Aster
Photo © by Earl J.S. Rook

Flora, fauna, earth, and sky...
The natural history of the northwoods


Name:

  • Aster, from the Latin, "star"
  • macrophyllus, from the Greek, makros (macros), "large", and fullon (phyllon), "leaf"
  • Large Leaf, from the heart shaped basal leaves, up to 6" x 8" in size
  • Other common names include Bigleaf Aster, Lumberjack Toilet Paper

Taxonomy:

  • Kingdom Plantae, the Plants
    • Division Magnoliophyta, the Angiosperms (flowering plants)
      • Class Magnoliopsida, the Dicotyledons
      • Subclass Asteridae
        • Order Asterales, the Sunflowers
          • Family Asteraceae, the Sunflowers
            • Genus Aster, the Asters
  • Taxonomic Serial Number: 35608

Description:

  • A widespread native rhizomatous perennial groundcover. Can form large dense colonies.
  • Bloom stems are infrequent and look little like the dense ground covering growth. The flowering stalk, when present, ranges to 5' in height, with pale lavender to purple ray flowers late in the season.
  • Leaves thick, basal, heart shaped; the size of your hand, 6"-8"

Identification:

  • A ubiquitous northwoods groundcover.
  • Distinguished by its very large, soft, thick, heart-shaped leaves.

Distribution:

  • Northeastern North America from Canada to the Ohio.

Habitat:

  • Common in most northwoods plant communities except wetlands.
  • Dry or moist sites in pine woods.
  • Sandy, acid soil (pH 5 to 6).

Fire:

Associates:

History:

  • The Indians are said to have made a tea for headache and used the dried leaves in lieu of tobacco.

Uses:

  • Young leaves have been collected for spring greens.
  • The herbal uses are scant.

Reproduction:

  • Reproduces by seed and vegetatively by rhizomes.
  • Spreads with stolons at a moderate rate.
  • Flowers August-October; generally the latest blooming flower in the North Country.
  • Pollination by Bumblebees (Bombus spp.)
  • Seed dispersal by wind.

Propagation:

  • By seed, started in July in a mix of acid peat and sand in cold frame.
  • By division in early spring.

Cultivation:

  • Hardy to USDA Zone 3 (average minimum annual temperature -40ºF)
  • Relatively easily grown in the woodland garden if provided a loose soil high in organic matter. Use for natural woodland ground cover. Plant about 12" apart.
  • The garden value is in the foliage, not the flowers.
  • Light to full shade; average soil.

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Last Updated on 26 February, 2004