Symphyotrichum puniceum is a perennial 0.5-2.5 m tall from a root crown, stems stout, bristly-hairy, often red or purplish.
Leaves alternate, stalkless, blade 7-16 cm long, 1-4 cm wide, base lobed, clasping stem, margin sparsely toothed, surface usually rough above.
Flowers: ray flowers 30-60, blue, 0.7-1.8 cm long, disk flowers 35-50, bracteate base 0.6-1 cm long, bracts loose, thin, hardly overlapping, tips elongate, blooming Aug.-Oct.
Fruit dry, 1-seeded, achene, with tuft of hairs (pappus).
Wetland status: OBL.
Frequency in NYC: Very infrequent.
Habitat: Damp thickets, meadows. Host to larvae of the pearly crescent butterfly, Phycoides tharos (Nymphalidae), (Tallamy 2003; Pyle 1981).