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For Your Garden - October 2022

Native plants provide beauty as well as food and shelter for wildlife. Native species are adapted to the Illinois climate. They require little or no watering and are resistant to drought, insects and most diseases. Because they are perennials, you can welcome their presence year after year.

calico aster (Symphyotrichum lateriflorum)

Calico aster grows in moist soils statewide. It reaches a height of one to three feet. The stems are light green or dark red-brown and have white hairs on them. Leaves grow alternately on the stem and become smaller from the bottom to the top of the stem. Leaf shape varies. Flower heads develop in clusters on the upper stem tips and some of the side stem tips. Blooming occurs from August through October. Each flower head has 8-12 ray flowers around a center of disk flowers. The disk flowers are yellow initially but change to brown or purple-red. The ray flowers are white. The fruit is an achene, a simple dry fruit that does not open at maturity. The achenes have small tufts of white hairs. Many species of insects are attracted to the flowers. The seeds are eaten by songbirds and game birds in winter.

Classification and taxonomy are based on Mohlenbrock, Robert H. 2014. Vascular flora of Illinois: A field guide. Fourth edition. Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale. 536 pp.

Illinois Range

Native Plant Information

For more information about Illinois native plants, visit our Native Habitat Descriptions, Requirements, and Plant Lists page. The following publications are available from the IDNR on our publications page.


​Kingdom: Plantae
Phylum: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Asterales
Family: Asteraceae

Illinois Status: common, native