White Heath Aster ?

White Heath Aster ?
White Heath Aster. Symphyotrichum ericoides, formerly Aster ericoides.
Asteraceae, the daisy, sunflower, or composite family.

Plant: Erect, branching stems, 1'-4' high, hairless to somewhat hairy, with small, white, daisy-like flower heads at the ends of leafy branchlets. Leaves small, linear, not hairy. Perennial.
Flowers: Small, white flower heads, generally 1/2" or less, generally with 15-25 rays, and yellow centers that turn pink or purple with age. Flowers heads are born at the ends of short, leafy branchlets, in contrast to some similar small white asters, which have more classically clustered heads.
Leaves: Alternate, small, linear, 1/2" - 2", rather uniform and closer to 1/2" on the upper stems. The leaves and arrangement on the upper stems is superficially similar to rosemary. Margins smooth, surfaces smooth to rough, but not hairy, leaves sessile, and tapering to a sharp point.
Fruit: A globular head of silky-haired achenes
Blooming: August-November
Habitat: Fields, waste areas, clearings.

Comments: Also known as Many-Flowered Aster, or simply as Heath Aster. The latter name refers to the small, narrow leaves, similar to that of the heath plant. 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. ericoides is current guess for the variety in these photos. This species/group has linear, leaves that are small, dense and of fairly uniform size, on the upper stems and branchlets. Some longer leaves occur lower on the plants. The leaves of some other species are larger, wider, or of mixed sizes; some are hairy. The flower heads are usually borne singly on branchlets with many few leaves on the stalk; Usually grows in open areas, sometimes is dwarfed in poor soils an full sun. Not usually found in partially areas.

Where to find it: Common in open, sunny areas of the park, especially near the water.