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Symphyotrichum falcatum facts for kids

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White prairie aster
Symphyotrichum (Aster) falcatus (3301180485).jpg
Conservation status

Secure (NatureServe)
Scientific classification
Synonyms

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Symphyotrichum falcatum (formerly Aster falcatus) is a species of flowering plant in the aster family. It is native to a widespread area of central and western North America. It is commonly called white prairie aster and western heath aster.

Name

Symphyotrichum falcatum common names include white prairie aster, western heath aster, creeping white prairie aster, falcate aster, little grey aster, and aster en faux (French).

The variety S. falcatum var. commutatum is known commonly as white prairie aster, western heath aster, and little grey aster, as well as cluster aster and aster changeant (French).

Taxonomy

See also: Symphyotrichum and Aster (genus)#Circumscription

Symphyotrichum falcatum is one of the two species within Symphyotrichum sect. Ericoidei. The other is Symphyotrichum ericoides.

Along with many other species, Symphyotrichum falcatum was formerly included in the genus Aster. However, this broad circumscription of Aster was polyphyletic (having multiple ancestral lines) and the North American asters are classified in Symphyotrichum and several other genera.

Symphyotrichum falcatum was first formally described by John Lindley in 1834 as Aster falcatus.

Two varieties of Symphyotrichum falcatum are recognized:

  • Symphyotrichum falcatum var. falcatum, cespitose with up to ten stems from caudices; and,
  • Symphyotrichum falcatum var. commutatum, communal with stems growing from rhizomes.

Conservation

NatureServe lists it as Secure (G5) worldwide but Critically Imperiled (S1) in Alaska, Vulnerable (S3) in Yukon, and Possibly Extirpated (SH) in Iowa. It is an exotic species in Ontario, Missouri, and Massachusetts.

Uses

The Zuni people mix the ground blossoms of the commutatum variety with yucca suds and used to wash newborn infants in the belief that it will make their hair grow and strengthen them.

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