Aster L.

Recent morphological and cytological research has considerably modified the generic boundaries of the genus Aster (Nesom 1994). All but two of the Belgian representatives of the genus Aster s.l., native as well as non-native, are now accommodated in several other genera. An alphabetical overview is given below:

Aster amellus L. => Aster amellus L.

Aster brachyactis S.T. Blake => Symphyotrichum ciliatum (Ledeb.) Nesom

Aster divaricatus L. => Eurybia divaricata (L.) Nesom

Aster lanceolatus Willd. => Symphyotrichum lanceolatum (Willd.) Nesom

Aster lateriflorus (L.) Britton => Symphyotrichum lateriflorum (L.) Á. et D. Löve

Aster linosyris (L.) Bernh. => Galatella linosyris (L.) Reichenb. f.

Aster novae-angliae L. => Symphyotrichum novae-angliae (L.) Nesom

Aster novi-belgii L. => Symphyotrichum novi-belgii (L.) Nesom

Aster pilosus Willd. => Symphyotrichum pilosum (Willd.) Nesom

Aster racemosus S. Elliott => Symphyotrichum racemosum (S. Elliott) Nesom

Aster sedifolius L. => Galatella sedifolia (L.) Greuter

Aster subulatus Michaux s.l. => Symphyotrichum subulatum (Michaux) Nesom s.l.

Aster xsalignus Willd. => Symphyotrichum xsalignum (Willd.) Nesom

Aster tripolium L. => Tripolium pannonicum (Jacq.) Dobrocz.

Aster xversicolor Willd. => Symphyotrichum xversicolor (Willd.) Nesom (incl. A. laevis L. => Symphyotrichum laeve (L.) Á. et D. Löve)

Aster s.str. now includes ca. 180, mainly Eurasian species. Even in this new circumscription Aster is both paraphyletic and polyphyletic (Li & al. 2012). Some species are cultivated as ornamentals, two of which have been recorded as escapes in Belgium. Both are distinguished from Symphyotrichum by their phyllaries that are obtuse at apex. Species of Aster s.str. seem to naturalize much less easily and are rarely (if ever) invasive.

1       Phyllaries (involucral bracts) 1,5-3 mm wide. Involucre 8-13 mm high. Heads 25-75 mm across === Aster amellus

         Phyllaries less than 1,5 mm wide. Involucre 5-6 mm high. Heads up to 25 mm wide === A. ageratoides


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Chen Y.L., Brouillet L. & Semple J.C. (2011) Aster. In: Wu Z.Y. & Raven P.H. (eds.), Flora of China, vol. 20–21. Science Press, Beijing & Missouri Botanical Garden Press, St. Louis: 574-632. [available online at:]

Grierson A. (1964) A revision of the Asters of the Himalayan area. Notes from the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh 26: 67-163.

Hawke R.G. (2013) A Comparative Study of Cultivated Asters. Plant Evaluation Notes 36: 1-11. [available online at:]

Hetterscheid W.L.A. & van den Berg R.G. (1996) Cultonomy of Aster L. Acta Bot. Neerl. 45(2): 173-181.

Hoffman M.H.A. (1995) Aster (1). Dendroflora 32: 6-23.

Jones A.G. & Young D.A. (1983) Generic concepts of Aster (Asteraceae): a comparison of cladistic, phenetic and cytological approaches. Syst. Bot. 81: 71-84.

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Li W.-P., Yang F.-S., Jivkova T. & Yin G.-S. (2012) Phylogenetic relationships and generic delimitation of Eurasian Aster (Asteraceae: Astereae) inferred from ITS, ETS and trnL-F sequence data. Ann. Bot. 109(7): 1341-1357. [available online at:]

Nesom G.L. (1994) Review of the taxonomy of Aster sensu lato (Asteraceae: Astereae), emphasizing the New World species. Phytologia 77: 141-297.

Nesom G.L. (2020) The genus Aster (Asteraceae) in the strictest sense. Phytoneuron 2020-56: 1–22. [available online at:]

Sell P. & Murrell G. (2006) Flora of Great Britain and Ireland. Vol. 4 Campanulaceae – Asteraceae. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge: XXVIII + 624 p.

Shaw J. (2014) The splitting of Aster. The Plantsman N.S. 13(2): 120-125. [available online at:]

Thellung A. (1913) Die in Mitteleuropa kultivierten und verwilderten Aster- und Helianthusarten nebst einem Schlüssel zur Bestimmung derselben. Allg. Bot. Zeitschr. 19: 87-89, 101-112, 132-140.

Yeo P.F. (2000) Aster. In: Cullen J. & al. (eds.), The European Garden Flora, vol. 6. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge: 570-578.

Taxonomic name: 
Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith