Here at the end of the summer you won’t find that many plants in full bloom in the forest, but here is one beauty you can look for now. Found in wet or dry woods, the Whorled Wood Aster is a perennial that grows 1 to 3 feet tall, and blooms in late summer and fall.
The name refers to the leaves, which appear to whorl around the top of the plant (they alternate and spiral at the same time). The leaves are lanceolate (long and narrow) and gently toothed; the petiole is either very short or non-existent. The upper leaves are larger than the lower leaves, giving the plant a top-heavy, unkempt look.
When it comes into bloom, a single stalk arises bearing a mass of small white or pinkish asters. New flower heads have white ray flowers and yellow disk flowers; the centers fade to pink or red with time. Like the leaves, the flowers look a bit disheveled in appearance too, but they are still very pretty.
The plant is also known as Mountain Aster or Whorled Aster. Sometimes it appears singly and other times in colonies.
I spotted a good number of Whorled Wood Asters on a recent trip to Grayson Highlands State Park. If you’re looking for an awesome hiking spot where you can see lots of wildflowers along with some of the best views in the state, head on up to the Highlands sometime soon.