Symphyotrichum lateriflorum

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: white woodland aster 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Asteraceae
Native Range: North America
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: September to October
Bloom Description: White with reddish-purple centers
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy
Attracts: Butterflies


Easily grown in moist, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Best growth typically occurs in moist, semi-shaded woodland areas. Tolerates full sun in cool summer climates, but appreciates some part shade in climates where summer temperatures consistently exceed 90°F. Tolerates periodic flooding. Stems may be pinched back in late spring to early summer if shorter plants are desired.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Symphyotrichum lateriflorum, commonly known as calico aster, side-flowering aster, starved aster or white woodland aster, is an herbaceous, somewhat bushy perennial that typically grows to 2-3’ tall with a slightly smaller spread. Aster lateriflorus is a former name and synonym for this plant which has now been reclassified from genus Aster to genus Symphyotrichum but with retention of its various aster common names.

It is native from Quebec to Ontario and Minnesota south to Florida and Texas where it is commonly found in a variety of habitats primarily including forest margins, stream borders, low wet woods, meadows, wet depressions of prairies and roadsides. It is commonly found throughout most of Missouri.

Small white flowers (each to 1/2” across) bloom in clusters along the branches from mid/late August into October. Each flower has 8-15 white to purple-tinged rays which surround a central disc of 8-16 tiny tubular disk flowers which mature to purplish-red. Achenes are distributed by wind. Long horizontal branches spread out from the main stem, each being clad with rough, narrow, lanceolate, dark green leaves with toothed margins. Leaves turn coppery in late summer. Lower leaves grow to 1 1/2” wide by 6” long. Leaves significantly decrease in size as they ascend the stems.

Genus name comes from the Greek symph meaning coming together and trich meaning hair in possible reference to the flower anthers.

Specific epithet is a combination of the Latin words for side and flower in reference to the fact that the flowers of this species generally are located on one side of the stems, hence the sometimes used common name of side-flowering aster.


No serious insect or disease problem. Taller plants may need some support.


Borders. Woodland areas. Mass or group. Also may be used as a perennial hedging plant along walkways or paths.