Awl Aster ?

Awl Aster ?
Awl Aster. Symphyotrichum pilosum, formerly Aster pilosum.
Asteraceae, the daisy, sunflower, or composite family.

Plant: Erect, hairy, branching stems, 1'-4' high, with hairy leaves of mixed shapes and sizes, and one-sided branches of small, white, daisy-like flower heads. Perennial.
Flowers: Small, white flower heads, about 1/2" across, generally with 20-35 rays, and yellow centers, on one-sided branches. Individual heads are borne on stalks with several bract-like, linear leaves.
Leaves: Alternate, lanceolate to linear, sessile, and hairy; the hairy leaves distinguish this species from several other species of small, white aster. The leaves vary considerably in size and shape - more so than some other species. Leaves where branches emerge from the main stem are broader and larger, 2"-4" long, than the closely-spaced stem leaves, which are typically linear and 1/2"-1" long. Large leaves may be adjacent to small ones, in contrast to some other species, where the change in size tends to be more gradual.
Fruit: A globular head of silky-haired achenes
Blooming: August-November
Habitat: Fields, waste areas, clearings.

Comments: Also known as Frost Aster and Hairy White Oldfield Aster, S. pilosum is current guess for the variety in these photos. It is one of a group of several small, white asters in our area that are difficult to distinguish, quite variable, and that probably hybridize to some extent. This species/group has stalkless, hairy leaves of variable size width and shape. The leaves of some other species are hairless to rough, and of more uniform shape. The flower heads are on long, one-sided branches, individually on medium-length stalks with several small, bract-like leaves. Some other species have more typical open clusters of heads; Heath Aster (S. ericoides) has similar, but even longer and leafier stalks, and usually hairless leaves.

Where to find it: Occasional in sunny areas of the park, this quite hairy variety is much less common than some other small white asters.