CPC Plant Profile: Forked Aster
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Plant Profile

Forked Aster (Eurybia furcata)

This shot shows Aster furcatus on a "nurse log." Photo Credit: Susanne Masi
  • Global Rank: G3 - Vulnerable
  • Legal Status: N/A
  • Family: Asteraceae
  • State: AR, IA, IL, IN, MI, MO, WI
  • Nature Serve ID: 152711
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 03/14/1986

Eurybia furcatus is a rare, self-incompatible plant that is endemic to the upper Midwest. This member of the Aster family is generally a woodland plant associated with low, wet areas. It has large white flowers that bloom from July to October, but that often fail to produce seed. Currently, this species is found reproducing almost exclusively asexually through the production and spread of rhizomes. These rhizomes are runners that make their way underground, eventually emerging up to 40 cm away from the parent plant. Because of this, populations of the forked aster often consists of clones, consisting of one to a few genetic individuals.

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Katie Heineman
  • 06/25/2021
  • Orthodox Seed Banking

Chicago Botanic Garden holds at least five populations of this species in conservation seed collections dating back to at least 1997. CBG is planning to recollect seed from one these localities and submit seed for testing to a CPC's IMLS funded seed longevity study which will compare the germination-based viability and RNA integrity of newly collected and long term stored seed collections.

Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

Regional endemic of the Midwest with dozens of occurrences, some with large number of individuals.

Andrea Tietmeyer
  • 01/01/2010

Threats to this species include: Genetic impoverishment (Les et al. 1992) Seedlings are out-competed (Les et al. 1992) Trail and/or road maintenance (Jones 1998) Intolerance to shade/Canopy closure (Les et al. 1992, Chicago Botanic Garden files) Deer Browsing (Chicago Botanic Ga

Andrea Tietmeyer
  • 01/01/2010

Fewer than 50 known populations (Les et al. 1991). In 1998 there were approximately 19 known populations in the Chicago area. It is difficult to know how many individuals are left because of the species tendency to reproduce via rhizomes rather than seed.

Andrea Tietmeyer
  • 01/01/2010
  • Genetic Research

Genetic analysis of one population by the Chicago Botanic Gardens has revealed low genetic variability which may be contributed to the reduction in seed production (Chicago Botanic Garden files). Reduced seed production may be correlated to canopy light availability. Studies at the Chicago Botanic Garden found that an increase in light is associated with an increase in flowering. Future investigations will focus upon the effect of canopy light availability on flowering phenology and the impact of deer browsing. Other studies have suggested that Aster furcatus may be evolving the capability to self-fertilize (the ability to produce seeds without the aid of pollen transfer by insects) in response to changes in population size (Reinartz and Les 1994).

Andrea Tietmeyer
  • 01/01/2010

Some areas are managed to maintain the open canopy conditions that this species requires to flower & potentially produce seed.

Andrea Tietmeyer
  • 01/01/2010

Research is needed on the breeding system of this species, as it appears to be evolving in relation to population size and pollen limitation. Further study is also needed to assess the relationship of shade intolerance to flowering phenology and seed production, as well as the impact of deer browsing on plant survival.


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Taxon Eurybia furcata
Authority (Burgess) G.L. Nesom
Family Asteraceae
CPC Number 338
ITIS 513442
Common Names forked aster | forking aster
Associated Scientific Names Aster furcatus | Eurybia furcatus
Distribution Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, southeastern Missouri and eastern Wisconsin. It is currently endangered in IA, IN and threatened in IL and WI.
State Rank
State State Rank
Arkansas SH
Iowa S1
Illinois S2
Indiana S2
Michigan S1
Missouri S2
Wisconsin S3

The species prefers nitrogen rich, alkaline soils of woodland slopes and wet calceous woods. The species can also be found in microhabitat conditions such as woodland edges, disturbed woodlots, railroad rights-of-way and dry oak-hickory woods. (Jones 1989)Associated species include: Solidago ulmifolia, Aster lateriflorus, Cinna arundinaceae, Elymus virginicus, Eupatorium rugosum, Fraxinus pennsylvanica, Helianthus strumosus, Iris shrevei, Oenothera biennis, Phalaris arundinaceae, Quercus alba, Ranunculus recurvatus, Scutellaria lateriflora, Smilax hispida, Tilia americana, Uvularia grandiflora, Verbena urticifolia and Verbesina alternifolia.

Ecological Relationships

Ecological relationships have not been recorded, save for deer browsing in Illinois.

Common Name Name in Text Association Type Source InteractionID
Lead Institution State Reintroduction Type Year of First Outplanting
Chicago Botanic Garden Illinois Reinforcement 2000
Chicago Botanic Garden Illinois Reinforcement 2000
Chicago Botanic Garden Illinois Reinforcement 2000
Chicago Botanic Garden Illinois Reinforcement 2000

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