Symphyotrichum ericoides is a perennial herb 30-100 cm tall, usually stiffly erect, somewhat gray-green, lower stem rigid, pale brown at time of flowering, most parts hairy, extensively colonial from rhizomes, stems single, freely branched.
Leaves alternate, linear to 6 cm long, 0.7 cm wide, tips rather rounded but tipped by short bristle, base fused to stem (sessile), stiff, crowded, rough-hairy, numerous, lower and middle leaves soon deciduous, lower stems often bare in flower, upper tiny, (smaller and more numerous than those of A. pilosus or A. racemosus), becoming bract-like, about 0.2 cm long on flower stalks, merging with bracts of flower head base; overwintering rosettes produced in mid summer (Jones 1978, no basal rosette in these samples from Conference House Park).
Flowers in small, daisy-like heads, rays white, 10-20, 0.4 cm long, disc flowers yellow, bracteate base of head 0.3-0.5 cm long, bracts flat, hairy on margins, bristle-tipped, tips green, curved outward, base whitish, midrib observed to be purple (see Asteraceae); inflorescence branched, with numerous flowers, often along one side of branches, flower stems often becoming shorter outward on branches in a rather regular way, with tiny, leafy bracts; blooming and fruiting July-Oct.
Fruit dry, 1-seeded, achene, with tuft of hairs (pappus), wind dispersed
Wetland status: FACU.
Frequency in NYC: Infrequent.
Habitat: Open upland areas, usually on poor or sandy dry soil.
Notes: Eaten by rabbits and various grazing animals. Host to larvae of the pearly crescent butterfly, Phycoides tharos (Nymphalidae) and a number of other insects. Infected by leaf spot fungi and powdery mildew (Chmielewski and Semple 2003; Tallamy 2003; Pyle 1981).