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California Aster
Symphyotrichum chilense
About California Aster (Symphyotrichum chilense) Nurseries Show All Photos This member of the Asteraceae (Sunflower) family is known by the common names Pacific aster and California aster. It is native to western North America from British Columbia to California, where it grows in many types of habitat, especially along the coast and in the coastal mountain ranges. In California it is concentrated in the central coast region. It was formerly classified as Aster chilensis and some sources may still refer to it by that name. Despite its Latin name, it does not occur in Chile. It is perennial herb growing to heights between 40 centimeters and one meter. The hairy leaves are narrowly oval-shaped, pointed, and sometimes finely serrated along the edges. The flower cluster holds aster flower heads with centers of yellow disc florets and fringes of many narrow light purple ray florets. Great for a butterfly garden.
Plant Description
Plant Type
Perennial herb

Max. Height
1.3 - 3.3 ft (0.4 - 1 m)

Max. Width
3 ft (0.9 m)

Growth Rate

Winter Deciduous

Flower Color
Blue, Lavender, Yellow

Flowering Season

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Grassy places, salt marshes, disturbed places

Part Shade, Sun

Elevation ?
-253' - 6735'

Annual Precip. ?
7.6" - 93.4"

Summer Precip. ?
0.14" - 2.08"

Coldest Month ?
32.7° F - 54.5° F

Hottest Month ?
57.0° F - 76.9° F

Humidity ?
0.03 vpd - 27.19 vpd

Soil Description
Prefers loamy clay soil

Soil PH
5.8 - 8.0

Medium, Slow, Standing

Cold Tolerance(° F)
Tolerates cold to 5° F

Sunset Zones ?
1, 2, 3, 4*, 5*, 6*, 7*, 8*, 9*, 10*, 11, 14*, 15*, 16*, 17*, 18*, 19*, 20*, 21*, 22*, 23*, 24*

Companion Plants
Works well with many shrubs and perennials, especially central coast species

Wildlife Attracted
The flowers attract many beneficial insects. The genus Symphyotrichum is a host plant for the Northern Checkerspot, Field Crescent and Pearl Crescent butterflies.

Landscaping Information
Ease of Care
Very Easy

Water Requirement ?
Very Low, Low
Extremely Low
Very Low
Moderate - High

Moderately Popular

Max. Summer Water ?
No Summer Water
Keep moist

Organic with Rocks

Can be cut back to the ground in winter. Deadhead during blooming season to produce more flowers.

Propagation ?
For propagating by seed: No treatment. "Seeds are from the flowers, they are connected to little fluffy bits that fly in the wind. Detatching the fluff from the seeds is not worth the time. Rather take a handful of collected seed fluff and sprinkle it in the desired area. Seeds sprout within a week. This plant looks like a common weed but is not. Be aware of this when pulling weeds in your garden"(JT)

Common uses
Deer Resistant, Bird Gardens, Butterfly Gardens, Bee Gardens

Other Names
Botanical Names
Aster chilensis,Symphyotrichum chilense var. chilense,Symphyotrichum chilense var. invenustum,Symphyotrichum chilense var. medium

Common Names
Common California Aster, Pacific Aster

Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution.

Links:   Jepson eFlora Taxon Page  CalPhotos  Wikipedia  Calflora

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