Smooth blue aster is a frost-tolerant plant with profuse lavender-blue, daisy-like blooms appearing in August, and often continuing into November. The leaves are smooth to the touch, different than most asters, giving rise to its common name.
Often found in prairies, rocky glades, dry open woods, and along roadside banks, smooth blue aster spreads slowly by rhizomes, making it a good choice for cottage or wildlife gardens, mass plantings and perennial borders. Long-lived if not overcrowded by more aggressive plants.
Grows 2-3’ tall with a spread of 1-3’
Grows best in full sun to part shade
Prefers dry to medium, well-drained soil. Tolerates dry, rocky soil.
Delicate blue-violet petals and yellow center disks are 1” across. Yellow centers turn reddish later in season.
Smooth, blue-green leaves are up to 4” long and lance shaped. Upper leaves are tiny and diamond shaped. The smooth, tough, bluish stems allow smooth blue asters to stand tall throughout summer and fall. A non-aggressive rhizomatous root system allows the plant to spread slowly. For sturdy, upright plants, choose a site where it will receive sun and wind from all directions.
A host plant for 112 species of Lepidoptera larvae, including silvery checkerspot, aster-head phaneta, and pearl crescent moth. Provides nectar to honey bees and specialized native bees, including mason bees, bumble bees, and leaf cutter bees. Skippers, monarchs, and clouded sulphurs also visit for nectar. Seedheads in fall and winter attract goldfinches, chickadees, nuthatches, towhees and wild turkey. Deer browse on this plant, which promotes a bushy, sturdy growth habit.
Medicinal and Edible Uses:
The roots of wild asters have a bitter-sweet flavor, and have been used in China for centuries to relieve coughing, wheezing and other lung conditions.
The flowers and leaves can be eaten fresh or dried. The flowers are gorgeous when added to salads or used as a garnish, and leaves and flowers can be added to soups or salads. The leaves can be cooked lightly and served like spinach.
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