Symphyotrichum shortii; Asteraceae (aster family)
Some things to consider when trying to identify asters:
- size of flower head
- number of ray flowers
- number of disk flowers
- color of flowers (not as important as you may think)
- shape and size of leaf, including the leaf base and leaf tip
- leaf margin
- arrangement of leaves on the stem and whether they’re more or less consistently sized
- shape, size, color, and number of rows of phyllaries (bracts)
- presence of glands
- smoothness (or not) and color of stems
…you get the idea. Actually this is a pretty general list, but with almost 90 species of Symphyotrichum found in the US (about two dozen in this area), you really have to pay attention to details.
All of which is to say, I’m not always sure I’ve correctly id’d all the asters I’ve been posting about. But they sure are pretty.