CPC Plant Profile: Columbian Whitetop Aster
Search / Plant Profile / Sericocarpus rigidus
Plant Profile

Columbian Whitetop Aster (Sericocarpus rigidus)

Description
  • Global Rank: G3 - Vulnerable
  • Legal Status: N/A
  • Family: Asteraceae
  • State: BC, OR, WA

This perennial herb from the Sunflower family (Asteraceae) is distinguished by tightly clustered flower heads on the shoot ends. They are usually in colonies of 50-200+ shoots that spread vegetatively by rhizomes (an underground, horizontal stem). The shoots that are not flowering are usually less than half the length of the flowering shoots. The leaves can be as long as one inch, are alternate and are placed evenly along the stem. (Pojar &MacKinnon, NHP field Guide, Hitchcock). White top aster habitat is open grassland and is dominated by Idaho fescue (Festuca idahoensis). Fire is thought to have played a major historical role in the maintenance of the grassland habitats occupied by A. curtus. (NHP Field Guide). Major threats to the species are loss of habitat by Scots broom (Cytisus scoparius), an invasive plant, and by encroaching Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) because of the loss of fire. (Hitchcock, et al 1973 ; Giblin 1997; NatureServe 2003; Selected Rare Vascular Plants of Washington 2000; USDA, NRCS. 2002)

Conservation Actions:
Participating Institutions
Photos
Nomenclature
Taxon Sericocarpus rigidus
Authority Lindl.
Family Asteraceae
CPC Number 335
ITIS 508083
USDA SERI4
Common Names Columbia white top aster | Curtus' aster | white-top aster
Associated Scientific Names Sericocarpus rigidus | Aster curtus
Distribution Aster curtus is restricted in distribution to only a few regions within the west coast of North America: the Willamette Valley-Puget Lowlands in Oregon and Washington and the southeastern portions of
State Rank
State State Rank
British Columbia S2
Oregon S2
Washington S3
Habitat

Open grasslands dominated by Idaho fescue (Festuca idahoensis) are home to the white-topped aster. And these grasslands are surrounded by Douglas fir trees (Pseudotsuga menziesii). The grasslands are typically moist most of the year, but dry, or moisture-stressed, during late summer. Southern populations occur in clayey soil, central populations in glacial outwash soil and northern populations in exposed bedrock. Other native species found in the grassland home of white-topped aster are snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus), service berry (Almelanchier alnifolia), Oregon sunshine (Eriophyllum lanatum) and early blue violet (Viola adunca). A non-native species found within white-topped asters habitat is Scots broom (Cytisus scoparius). This species poses a threat to Aster curtus by growing in dense stands and altering the soil nutrients. (Rare Care)

Ecological Relationships

A. curtus is thought to have a relationship with fire where fire maintains its grassland habitat; frequent fires that burn at low intensity and soils that are seasonally dry keep the grasslands free from encroaching trees (Giblin 1997).

Updates

Be the first to post an update!

Be the first to post an update!

Pollinators
Common Name Name in Text Association Type Source
Bees
Bees Confirmed Pollinator Link
Other
Wasps Confirmed Pollinator Link

Donate to CPC to Save this Species

Fall fundraising drive has begun! We're looking for 2,500 people to protect our planet. With you by our side, we will build a future where people live in harmony with nature. Come help and become a CPC donor today.

Donate Today