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An attractive inhabitant of dry woodlands and savannas, Symphyotrichum shortii grows to about 3' in height. Its stems are round and slender. The central stems end in foot-long clusters of compound flowers, each with 10-20 pale blue-violet ray florets surrounding a yellow disk that ages to reddish purple. The leaf margins of Short's Aster are mostly smooth, distinguishing it from most other woodland Asters, which have toothed leaf edges. Also called Aster shortii.Shorts profiles what's trending and what's hottest. Like our favorite joints. Everyone wants to be a part of a movement, right?
Relatively rare in Minnesota, we are at the northwest tip of this species' range and it is only found in the wild in 3 of our southeast counties, though it may be introduced elsewhere in restoration plantings. According to the DNR, Short's Aster was listed as a Threatened species in 1996 due to its rarity in the state (at the time) and threats from development, logging, grazing and invasive species. It was downgraded to Special Concern in 2013 after biological surveys located an additional 10 sites. It is distinguished from other blue-violet asters with heart-shaped leaves by the hairy phyllaries, densely short-hairy upper stem, and mostly toothless leaves that are smooth on the upper surface.Of the other blue-violet asters with heart-shaped leaves, Sky-blue Aster (Symphyotrichum oolentangiense) may be most similar.
It has hairless phyllaries, rough textured leaves and only those at the base of the plant are heart-shaped. Blue Wood Aster (Symphyotrichum cordifolium), Drummond's Aster (S. drummondii), Lindley's Aster (S. ciliolatum), and Big-leaf Aster (Eurybia macrophylla) all have distinctly toothed leaves that are proportionately wider. Arrowleaf Aster (S. urophyllum) also has heart-shaped leaves on the lower stem, but has smaller white flowers. The preference is partial sun, mesic to dry-mesic conditions, and soil that contains loam or some rocky material with decaying organic matter. Calcareous ground with a higher than normal pH is tolerated. Like many other asters (Symphyotrichum spp.), the foliage can be attacked by many kinds of insects and disease organisms. The plants have a tendency to flop over while in bloom. (Source: www.illinoiswildflowers.info)