Smooth aster, smooth blue aster
The Rocky Mountains, the northern Great Plains, and small areas of adjacent states
Hillsides, meadows, open woodland; plains to montane
Ovate to lanceolate, alternate, up to 7 inches long, toothless. Stem leaves clasping
June to September
Flowers, bracts and leaves of symphyotrichum laeve are usually hairless, hence the common name of smooth aster, but may be covered by a whitish bloom. Flowers are slightly less than an inch across, and form broad, open clusters typically containing 10 to 20 heads. The involucres are cylindrical or bell-shaped, lined by several series of small, non-overlapping phyllaries, often with a dark tip, and not glandular (nor sticky). The purple-lavender ray florets usually number from 13 to 23, the yellow-purple disc florets 19 to 33. Leaves are thick and fleshy, and their edges are usually lined by very fine teeth. This is a late-blooming species, adding color to the lower mountain slopes into early fall.