Eurybia is from the Greek eurys meaning wide and baios meaning few (perhaps alluding to the few, wide-spreading florets); macrophylla is from the Latin for large leaf.
Eurybia is also the name of a Greek goddess.
Previously classified under the genus Aster.
Woods and clearings from Nova Scotia to Minnesota south to Illinois, Ohio and North Carolina.
Big-leaf Aster is useful in open shade gardens, native plant gardens, woodland gardens and wooded slopes, adding autumn color with low maintenance. The basal leaves make an excellent ground cover.
Noted for its large basal leaves. This is a woodland species that will grow in shade, but best flowering and growth is in part shade. It spreads by rhizomes and self-seeding to form colonies in optimum growing conditions. Big-leaf Aster is best grown in moist, well-drained, sandy loams in part shade.
Leaves and Stems
The leaves are heart-shaped, rough, sharply-toothed. Basal leaves are 4-8” wide. Ovate, stalkless upper leaves are much smaller. The large lower and basal leaves are the most recognizable characteristic, particularly the density of the population, and distinguish this from other blue-flowered asters that may be found in woodland habitats. Stems are often purplish and grow 1’- 2’ tall, but can be up to 4' tall in sunny locations. They are erect, stiff, unbranched, hairless to sparsely hairy. Basal leaves wither on flowering plants, while basal leaves of non-flowering plants may persist through to frost.
Flat-topped clusters of flowers with 9-20 violet to pale blue (rarely white) rays and yellow centers bloom on sticky, glandular flower stalks in August and September. Each flower base is surrounded by 4-6 layers of tiny green to purplish, hairy bracts, transitioning to 1-1/2 inch hairy, sticky flower stalks.
The fruit is a dry seed with a tuft of dull yellowish brown to orange-brown hairs to carry it off in the wind.
The flowers are attractive to bees, butterflies, and other insects, and this aster is the larval host for the Pearl Crescent butterfly (Phyciodes tharos).
Sow seeds outside in fall or provide cold stratification. This plant can also be propagated by "softwood" cuttings taken in late spring or by division of clumps in spring.
Tender, young leaves may be cooked and eaten as greens.
Performance Hall Garden, Staff Entry Garden (see garden map)
This species is also known colloquially as lumberjack toilet paper.
Plant Profile by Kathy Kling and Kate O'Dell