Eurybia divaricata or Aster divaricates
Here is a common white aster that you are probably familiar with from your fall hikes in the mountains of Virginia. White wood asters are forest perennials that grow 1 to 3 feet in height. Although they are not particularly showy, they become more obvious at the end of the summer when other forest plants begin to fade. The plants usually appear in groups, since they spread by underground rhizomes.
The distinctive leaves of white wood asters are alternate, sharply toothed, and stalked (they have petioles). The lower leaves are heart-shaped while the upper leaves are more narrow. The dark-colored stems grow in a zigzag fashion and are covered in very fine hair.
White wood aster’s small, white, daisy-like flowers grow in flat clusters. Each flower is less than 1 inch across. The number of white ray flowers per head is only 5 to 10. The central disk is yellow to reddish in color.
Look for white wood asters growing in dry open woods; bloom time is July through October. It also grows well in garden settings because it is easy to cultivate–it prefers partial to full shade and happily tolerates dry conditions at the end of summer. 🙂