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Symphyotrichum puniceum var. puniceum (Purplestem aster)
Bransford, W.D. and Dolphia

Symphyotrichum puniceum var. puniceum

Symphyotrichum puniceum (L.) Á. Löve & D. Löve var. puniceum

Purplestem Aster, Red-stem Aster, Swamp Aster

Asteraceae (Aster Family)

Synonym(s): Aster calderi, Aster conduplicatus, Aster firmus, Aster forwoodii, Aster lucidulus, Aster puniceus, Aster puniceus ssp. firmus, Aster puniceus var. calderi, Aster puniceus var. calvus, Aster puniceus var. compactus, Aster puniceus var. demissus, Aster puniceus var. firmus, Aster puniceus var. lucidulus, Aster puniceus var. oligocephalus, Aster puniceus var. perlongus, Symphyotrichum firmum, Symphyotrichum puniceum var. calderi


USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N), SPM (N)

This is a variable plant, but the typical form has bristly, purplish stems; toothed, lance-shaped leaves; and many light-violet or violet-blue rays (petals) surrounding a yellow center. Red-stem aster is a stout plant growing 2-7 ft. tall.

Resembles a large and lighter coloured New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angleae). (Ontario Native Plants 2002)


From the Image Gallery

16 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Size Notes: Up to about 7 feet tall.
Leaf: Green
Fruit: Fruit is a cypsela (pl. cypselae). Though technically incorrect, the fruit is often referred to as an achene.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Purple
Bloom Time: Aug , Sep , Oct , Nov


USA: AL , CT , DC , DE , GA , IA , IL , IN , KY , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , NC , ND , NH , NJ , NY , OH , PA , RI , SC , SD , TN , VA , VT , WI , WV
Canada: AB , BC , MB , NB , NL , NS , NT , ON , PE , QC , SK
Native Distribution: Nf. to Ont., MN & ND, s. to GA, TN & s. MO
Native Habitat: Wet, frequently calcareous, thickets

Growing Conditions

Water Use: High
Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Wet
CaCO3 Tolerance: Low
Soil Description: Damp soils


Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Attracts: Butterflies

Value to Beneficial Insects

Special Value to Native Bees

This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.


Description: Sow seeds, 5/8" deep, outside in fall or provide cold stratification. Also propagated by "softwood" cuttings taken in late spring.
Seed Collection: Approximate collection date in northern U.S.: late Oct.
Commercially Avail: yes

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

USDA: Find Symphyotrichum puniceum var. puniceum in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Symphyotrichum puniceum var. puniceum in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Symphyotrichum puniceum var. puniceum


Record Modified: 2023-01-27
Research By: TWC Staff

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