Virginia Tech Weed Identification Guide

White Heath Aster: Aster pilosus

Weed Description: A branching perennial with white and yellow flowers that may reach as much as 5 1/2 feet in height.  Primarily a weed of pastures, forages, and noncrop areas, this weed may be found from New England south to northern Florida and west to Minnesota, Nebraska, Kansas, and Louisiana.

Seedling: Stems below the cotyledons (hypocotyls) are green or purple in color.  Cotyledons are egg shaped and have relatively wide petioles.  The first true leaves are alternate and without hairs.  Seedlings are less common than sprouts from rhizomes.

Roots:  Short rhizomes can or cannot occur on individual plants, but most plants have a basal crown of woody stems that facilitate vegetative reproduction.  Fibrous roots originate from these woody stems.

Stems:  Stems are erect, becoming woody, and branched especially in the upper portions.

Leaves: Basal leaves are lanceolate, upper leaves are linear and 3/4 to 4 inches long, 2 to 15 mm wide.  Basal and upper leaves are without petioles (sessile) and feel rough to the touch (scabrous).

Fruit: A 1 mm long brown achene.

Flowers:  Many flowers are produced in panicles at the end of stems.  Individual flowers are about 3/4 inch in diameter and consist of outer white (ray) flowers and a yellow center (disk flowers).  Approximately 20 to 30 white ray flowers occur on each flower.
Identifying Characteristics:  Perennial plants that are branched extensively in the upper portions and have many white and yellow flowers.  The flowers and growth habit of Annual Fleabane (Erigeron annuus) are similar to white heath aster, however annual fleabane has more than 30 white ray flowers unlike white heath aster.  White heath aster might also be confused with White Campion (Silene alba) in the early stages of growth, however white heath aster has more lanceolate leaves with slightly toothed margins unlike white campion. aster8-10b.jpg (68418 bytes)