Aster divaricatus, sometimes referenced by its updated scientific name of Eurybia divaricata, is a perennial flowering plant called the woodland aster or white wood aster. This plant features serrated heart-shaped leaves and a profusion of small white flowers that begin blooming in late summer. Mostly found in the Eastern U.S. in the Appalachian area, this plant flourishes in zones 3 through 8 and will tolerate soil that is dry or slightly acidic. Three popular cultivars of aster divaricatus are called Fiesta, Raiche Form, and Snow Heron.
This perennial produces an abundance of white flowers approximately 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide, with yellowish centers that mature to become more purple in color. The heart-shaped leaves, which can be over 2.5 inches (6.25 cm) long, grow from flexible snake-like stems. The foliage is dark green in color.
There are approximately 28 identified species in the genus Eurybia, or the aster family. Aster divaricatus is found abundantly in the Eastern U.S. from Maine to Mississippi. It also inhabits parts of southeastern Canada, specifically Ontario and Quebec, where the species is threatened. This plant is typically found growing wild in open woods or clearings in relatively dry conditions.
The woodland aster is a hardy plant that requires very little maintenance or water to thrive. It is prized, in part, because it is not particularly susceptible to damage by insects or disease. This perennial will do well in full sun or in a partly shaded area that receives up to four hours of sunlight per day, and will produce flowers even in shady conditions.
This species of aster does not need to be staked for support, but its natural tendency toward sprawl can be controlled by planting it between hostas or other strong perennials. If left unchecked, one aster divaricatus plant can spread up to 2.5 feet (76 cm). For this reason, it is considered to be useful as a ground cover.
Aster divaricatus is said to attract butterflies, who feed on the nectar of its white flowers, as well as songbirds, who use parts of the plant as material to build their nests. It also provides general cover for wildlife. This plant is sometimes confused with other species that have superficial similarities, such as the mountain wood aster, Eurybia chlorolepis; Schreber's aster, Eurybia schreberi; the bigleaf aster, Eurybia macrophylla; and the heartleaf aster, Symphyotrichum cordifolium.