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Wetland Evaluation and Delineation

Featured Plants - Savannah aster
 

Aster Chapmanii Savannah aster flowers - Photo by FNAI

This tall, wiry, graceful perennial herb is one of the ornaments of wet grassy savannas. Though it has been reported from as far south as St. Lucie County, it is most likely to be encountered in the wet prairies, seepage slopes, and wet flatwoods of the Panhandle from Wakulla County westward. Its long curving branches with narrow leaves pressed to the stem are almost invisible from a short distance away, making the few large daisy-like heads, with purple or blue rays and yellow centers, appear to float above the tan and gold wiregrass and sedges of the treeless prairie.

This is one of the thirty or so species of Aster in Florida. Like the other plants in the daisy or sunflower family, all asters have tiny flowers clustered together in a head that mimics a single flower. In asters, several rows of overlapping green bracts or phyllaries surround the bottom of each head. The "petals" or rays of asters are white, pink, or purple, never yellow or red. And finally, a ring of bristles called a pappus tops the "seeds" or achenes of asters.

Aster chapmanii is set apart from our other asters by its slender stems as much as 1.5 m tall, few long upwardly-curving branches, and narrow grass-like leaves. Its relatively few large flower heads, arranged in an open, roughly flat-topped inflorescence, have blue or blue-violet rays as much as 1.5 cm long.

It blooms in late summer and fall, from September to November. Because of its preference for wet flatwoods and savannas, Florida classifies it as a FACW (facultative-wet) species on its official list of wetland plants.

For more information, see pages 277 and 279 in Florida Wetland Plants: An Identification Manual.

Last updated: September 21, 2011

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