Symphyotrichum novae-angliae is a perennial herb 1-2 m tall, clumped from a stout root crown, also colonial from rhizomes; most parts hairy.
Leaves alternate, those along stems, 3-12 cm long, 0.6-2 cm wide, lance-shaped, base lobed, clasping stem, both sides hairy.
Flowers: Rays purple, showy, 45-100, 1-2 cm long; disc flowers 50-110, yellow turning purple, about 0.5 cm long; bracteate base 0.6-1 cm long, bracts glandular-hairy, numerous, in 3-5 rows, slender, often purplish (Chmielewski and Semple 2003); blooming Aug.-Oct,. insect pollinated, visited by several species of Bombus (bumblebees), an obligate outbreeder.
Fruit dry, 1-seeded, achene, with tuft of hairs (pappus), wind dispersed, eaten by birds and small mammals.
Wetland status: FACW-.
Frequency in NYC: Occasional.
Habitat: Open wet meadows, edges, wet roadsides, soil pH 5-7.
Notes: Leaves eaten by rabbits and deer. Host to larvae of the pearly crescent butterfly, Phycoides tharos (Nymphalidae); produces some phenolics that act as allelochemicals. Used medicinally by some Native Americans. Preyed upon by leaf minors and stem boring insects. Infected by a number of fungi. (Chmielewski and Semple 2003; Tallamy 2003; Pyle 1981).