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Vascular Plants of California
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Symphyotrichum spathulatum

Higher Taxonomy
Family: Asteraceae (Compositae)View DescriptionDichotomous Key
Habit: Annual to tree. Leaf: basal and/or cauline, alternate, opposite, rarely whorled, simple to 2+ × compound. Inflorescence: 1° inflorescence a head, resembling a flower, of several types (see below), 1--many in generally +- cyme-like cluster; each head generally with +- calyx-like involucre of 1--many series of phyllaries (involucre bracts); receptacle of head flat to conic or columnar, paleate (bearing paleae = receptacle bracts) or epaleate; flowers 1--many per head. Flower: bisexual, unisexual, or sterile, +- small, of several types (see below); calyx 0 or modified into +- persistent pappus of bristles, scales, and/or awns; corolla radial or bilateral (0), lobes generally (0)3--5; stamens 4--5, filaments generally free, generally fused to corolla at tube/throat junction, anthers generally fused into cylinder around style, anther base generally rounded or cordate (deeply sagittate or with tail-like appendages), tip (= flattened appendage) generally projecting beyond pollen sac; pistil 1, 2-carpeled, ovary inferior, 1-chambered, 1-seeded, placenta basal, style 1, tip generally +- 2-branched (except in some staminate disk flowers), branch tips truncate or generally bearing +- brush-like appendages; stigmas 2, generally on adaxial faces of style branches. Fruit: achene (also called a cypsela) (drupe in Chrysanthemoides), cylindric to ovoid, sometimes compressed, generally deciduous with pappus attached.
Genera In Family: +- 1500 genera, 23000 species: worldwide, many habitats. Note: Flower and head types differ in form and sexual condition. A disk flower has a generally radial corolla, with a cylindric tube, expanded throat, and generally 5 lobes. Disk flowers are generally bisexual and fertile but occasionally staminate with reduced ovaries. Discoid heads comprise only disk flowers. A radiant head is a variant of a discoid head, with peripheral disk flower corollas expanded, often bilateral. A ray flower corolla is bilateral, generally with a slender tube and flattened petal-like ray (single lip composed of generally 3 lobes). Ray flowers are generally pistillate or sterile (occasionally lacking styles). Radiate heads have peripheral ray flowers and central disk flowers. Disciform heads superficially resemble discoid heads, with pistillate or sterile flowers that lack rays, together with or separate from disk flowers. A ligulate flower is bisexual, with a bilateral, generally ephemeral corolla and 5-lobed ligule. Liguliflorous heads comprise only ligulate flowers. See glossary p. 31 for illustrations of family characteristics. Echinops sphaerocephalus L., Gaillardia aristata Pursh, Gaillardia pulchella Foug., Hymenothrix loomisii S.F. Blake, Tagetes erecta L., Thelesperma megapotamicum (Spreng.) Kuntze are waifs. Melampodium perfoliatum Kunth, historic urban waif. Ageratum conyzoides L., Guizotia abyssinica (L. f.) Cass., Santolina chamaecyparisus L., orth. var. are rare or uncommon escapes from cultivation. Dyssodia papposa, Ismelia carinata (Schousb.) Sch. Bip. [Chrysanthemum carinatum Schousb.], Mantisalca salmantica (L.) Briq. & Cavill. are historical or extirpated waifs in California. Inula helenium L. not documented in California. Taxa of Aster in TJM (1993) treated here in Almutaster, Doellingeria, Eurybia, Ionactis, Oreostemma, Sericocarpus, Symphyotrichum; Chamomilla in Matricaria; Bahia in Hymenothrix; Cnicus in Centaurea; Conyza in Erigeron and Laennecia; Dugaldia in Hymenoxys; Erechtites in Senecio; Hymenoclea in Ambrosia; Lembertia in Monolopia; Osteospermum ecklonis in Dimorphotheca; Picris echioides in Helminthotheca; Prionopsis in Grindelia; Raillardiopsis in Anisocarpus and Carlquistia; Schkuhria multiflora in Picradeniopsis; Trimorpha in Erigeron; Venidium in Arctotis; Whitneya in Arnica. Amauriopsis in TJM2 (2012) treated here in Hymenothrix; Arida in Leucosyris; Bahia in Picradeniopsis; Eucephalus in Doellingeria.
Unabridged Note: Largest family of vascular plants in California and of eudicots globally.
eFlora Treatment Author: David J. Keil, except as noted
Scientific Editor: David J. Keil, Bruce G. Baldwin.
Genus: SymphyotrichumView DescriptionDichotomous Key

Habit: Annual or perennial herb from caudex or rhizome. Stem: generally erect, 1--24 dm. Leaf: basal and/or cauline, alternate, generally entire; basal generally petioled. Inflorescence: heads generally radiate, 1 or in cyme- or panicle-like cluster; involucre cylindric to hemispheric; phyllaries graduated or +- equal in 2--6 series, at least inner proximally with pale, papery margins; receptacle +- flat, pitted, epaleate. Ray Flower: [8]14--100+; corolla violet to pink or white. Disk Flower: 4--60+; corolla, anthers generally yellow, tube generally < throat; anther tip +- triangular; style branches flat on inner face, base +- warty, tip acute, hairy. Fruit: generally rounded, +- ribbed, +- brown; pappus of bristles, white to +- brown.
Species In Genus: +- 90 species: North America, South America, eastern Eurasia. Etymology: (Greek: bristle hair) Note: Reported records of Symphyotrichum laeve (L.) G.L. Nesom var. geyeri (A. Gray) G.L. Nesom from Del Norte Co. are Symphyotrichum subspicatum (Nees) G.L. Nesom.
eFlora Treatment Author: Geraldine A. Allen
Reference: Brouillet et al. 2006 FNANM 20:465--539
Unabridged Reference: Nesom 1994 Phytologia 77:141--297
Symphyotrichum spathulatum (Lindl.) G.L. Nesom
Habit: Perennial herb; rhizome long. Stem: glabrous to +- hairy. Leaf: basal and cauline, 5--15 cm, +- smaller distally on stem, acute, +- entire, +- glabrous. Inflorescence: heads in open cyme-like cluster; phyllaries linear to oblong, acute or outer +- obtuse, green at tip, +- pale-margined at base, green zone elliptic to lanceolate. Ray Flower: 15--40, corolla 8--12 mm, violet. Fruit: hairy.
Note: Variable.
Synonyms: Aster spathulatus Lindl.; Aster occidentalis (Nutt.) Torr. & A. Gray
Jepson eFlora Author: Geraldine A. Allen
Reference: Brouillet et al. 2006 FNANM 20:465--539
Index of California Plant Names (ICPN; linked via the Jepson Online Interchange)

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Citation for this treatment: Geraldine A. Allen 2012, Symphyotrichum spathulatum, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on August 02, 2021.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2021, Jepson eFlora,, accessed on August 02, 2021.

Symphyotrichum spathulatum var. spathulatum
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© 2017 Keir Morse
Symphyotrichum spathulatum var. spathulatum
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© 2017 Keir Morse
Symphyotrichum spathulatum var. spathulatum
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© 2003 Christopher L. Christie
Symphyotrichum spathulatum var. spathulatum
click for enlargement
© 2017 Keir Morse
Symphyotrichum spathulatum var. spathulatum
click for enlargement
© 2004 George W. Hartwell
Symphyotrichum spathulatum var. spathulatum
click for enlargement
© 2007 George W. Hartwell

More photos of Symphyotrichum spathulatum var. spathulatum in CalPhotos

Geographic subdivisions for Symphyotrichum spathulatum:
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map of distribution 1
(Note: any qualifiers in the taxon distribution description, such as 'northern', 'southern', 'adjacent' etc., are not reflected in the map above, and in some cases indication of a taxon in a subdivision is based on a single collection or author-verified occurence).


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Data provided by the participants of the  Consortium of California Herbaria.
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Blue markers indicate specimens that map to one of the expected Jepson geographic subdivisions (see left map). Purple markers indicate specimens collected from a garden, greenhouse, or other non-wild location.
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CCH collections by month

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa, if there are more than 1 infraspecific taxon in CA.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time (fruiting time in some monocot genera).