Small White Aster ?

Small White Aster ?
Small White Aster. Symphyotrichum racemosum, formerly Aster racemosum.
Asteraceae, the daisy, sunflower, or composite family.

Plant: Erect, branching stems, 1'-4' high, hairy in lines or hairless, with loose terminal clusters of small, white, daisy-like flower heads. Perennial.
Flowers: Small, white flower heads, generally 1/2" or less, generally with 20-30 rays, and yellow centers, in open panicles.
Leaves: Alternate, lanceolate to narrowly lanceolate, margins smooth or sparsely toothed, surfaces smooth to rough, but not hairy, sessile, and tapering smoothly at both ends. Leaves near flower heads may be quite small; lower stem leaves 2"-4".
Fruit: A globular head of silky-haired achenes
Blooming: August-October
Habitat: Fields, waste areas, clearings.

Comments: One of a group of several small, white asters in our area that are difficult to distinguish, that are quite variable, and that probably hybridize to some extent. S. racemosum is current best guess for the variety in these photos. This species/group has stalkless, hairless leaves of intermediate width and fairly uniform shape, though a variety of sizes. The leaves of some other species are smaller, linear or of mixed shapes; some are hairy. The flower heads are in an open cluster with a few leaves on the stalk; other species have stalks with many bract-like leaves supporting each head. Sometimes grows in forest boundaries in partial shade.

Where to find it: Common in open, sunny areas of the park, often mixed with larger blue/violet-flowered asters and goldenrod. Sometimes in shadier wood-margin areas as well.