Native Plant of the Week: Silky Aster ~ Symphyotrichum sericeum (Aster sericeus)

Other Common Name: Western Silver Aster

Silky Aster is aptly named for its soft violet pink flowers and silvery leaves. We planted a large amount of Silky Aster in our yard this year with the Grant Project.

It just started to flower in amongst the Little Bluestem and Side Oats Grama grasses. This area is extremely sandy, well drained and dry.

Silky aster "habitats include dry gravel prairies, dolomite prairies, sand prairies, hill prairies, scrubby barrens, limestone glades, and prairie remnants along railroads (rarely)". (Illinois Wildflowers)

"An especially noticeable feature of this plant is the uniformity with which it occurs in the vegetation of hill after hill. As a consequence, the entire floral covering of such situations takes its complexion from the silvery stems and leaves and bright purple flowers of this species."  The Botanical Survey of Nebraska by Pound & Clements, 1900

You can see in the photo of the close up of the hairy leaves that the stem has been nipped by a rabbit. So, yes, unfortunately this is one prairie native that the bunnies love.

Silky Aster reaches about 2 feet tall but does not have an overly upright habit, it tends to splay out so interplanting it with grasses or other stiff stemmed plants helps to prop it up.

The bees and syrphid flies like to nectar on this plant as it flowers from August through October.

If you have a dry, sunny and well drained spot in your yard for this well behaved Aster, I would highly recommend it.