Western mountain aster
Western states, from the Pacific to the Rocky Mountains
Meadows, streamsides, open forests
Linear or slightly spalulate, up to 5 inches long
Symphyotrichum spathulatum is a wide ranging and variable species, differing in growth form, leaf dimensions and flower color. Leaves are generally thin (a quarter of an inch or less), and relatively short, up to 5 inches; they grow close together in a rather untidy arrangement, most of the way along the stems. Leaf edges have a fine covering of short hairs. The involucral bracts (phyllaries) are dark green in color but lighter at the base, relatively broad, and do not curve outwards. Ray florets number 15 to 40, and tend not to overlap; the yellow disc florets (30 to 80) are also fewer than some similar species. There are four varieties, differing mostly in the phyllary characteristics.