Gulf South Research Corporation

wood_home wood_company_info wood_gsa wood_projects wood_staff wood_links wood_contact_us

Return to the Endangered Plants of the Southeastern US Database

Endangered Species of the Western US Database

Georgia Aster

Symphyotrichum georgianum

Aster georgianus
Aster patens var. georgianus



Status under the U.S. Endangered Species Act

Candidate for Federal Protection (June 13, 2002)

State Heritage Status Rankings

Alabama (S2/S3), Florida (SU), Georgia (S2), North Carolina (S2), South Carolina (S?)


Georgia aster is a perennial, colonial herb with 1, sometimes 2 stems, approximately 4.5 to 8 dm tall, originating from an underground rhizome. Georgia aster leaves are thick, lanceolate to oblanceolate, scabrous, and clasp the scabrous stem. From early October to mid-November, the species produces flower heads 5 cm across exhibiting dark purple rays up to 2 cm in length. The disk flowers are white with purplish tips on the corollas, purple anthers, and whitish pollen. As the flowers mature, the corollas turn a darker purple color. The fruit is produced between November and December and is a ribbed achene up to 4 mm in length exhibiting evenly spreading trichomes (USFWS 2002).


Georgia aster is a relict species of post oak (Quercus stellata) savanna/prairie communities that existed in the southeast prior to widespread fire suppression and extirpation of large native grazing animals. It occupies a variety of dry habitats and the primary controlling factor appears to be the availability of light. The majority of the remaining Georgia aster populations survive adjacent to roads, along woodland borders, in dry, rocky woods, and within utility rights-of-way and other openings where current land management mimics natural disturbance regimes. Most populations are small, and since the speciesí main mode of reproduction is vegetative, each isolated population probably represents just a few genotypes. Many existing populations are threatened by woody plant succession due to fire suppression, development, highway expansion/improvement, and herbicide application (USFWS 2002).


Georgia aster is found from southcentral North Carolina to central Georgia and west to central Alabama, apparently disjunct on the Coastal Plain of southwest Georgia and the eastern Panhandle of Florida. NatureServe (2003) reports there are approximately 60 populations known to exist in the southeastern United States. Most of these populations are small, consisting of colonies of only 10 to 100 stems.

Special Identification Features:

Georgia aster resembles two other asters which occur in the same habitat and may be found growing adjacent to Georgia asters. Georgia aster may be distinguished from the similar late purple aster (Symphyotrichum patens var. patens) by its dark purple flowers (compared to the light lavender flowers of late purple aster). Large flower aster (Symphyotrichum grandiflorum) is another similar species, but it can be distinguished by its yellow disk flowers (compared to the white disk flowers of Georgia aster) (Patrick et. al. 1995).