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The growth forms of Asterales range from annuals to trees, but in California, the members of this order are almost exclusively annuals and herbaceous perennials. There are some important shrubs as well, but the species diversity clearly goes to the smaller plants, and there are many, particularly in the family Asteraceae. With the exception of Baccharis, the shrubs are barely woody, with thin, brittle stems. Virtually all of the plants appear to require a pollinator and usually have showy flowers. They tend to produce large numbers of short lived seeds.

Members of Asterales are fast growing, relatively short lived and often amenable to horticulture or site disturbance. Many species have found their way into agriculture and gardening. A disturbing number are weeds.


Native Plant Orders

California Native
Plant Guide

Plant Relationships

Jepson (2012)

Native Families:


Aster family. Composites.
Bellflower family

Other Common Families:


Jepson (1993)

Native Families:


Aster family. Composites.

Other Common Families:



Growth Forms:

Most of the native Asterales are annuals and herbaceous perennials. There are some important shrubs used in Asteraceae, such as Baccharis. They also occur as trees, but none in California.




Range from simple to deeply dissected.


Only the members of Asteraceae have compound flowers.

Seed and Fruit:

Small seeds. No fruit or berries.

Growing Conditions

Sun and Exposure:

Generally found in full sun.

Soil and Moisture Requirements:

There are genera and species found in virtually all soil and moisture conditions.

Horticulture and Restoration

Horticultural Comments:

Asterales, particularly Asteraceae, is widely used in landscaping. They are usually fast growing plants found in full sun. They range from drought tolerant to moisture loving. Most members of Asterales, even the drought tolerant ones, either tolerate or respond well to irrigation.

Wildlife Habitat:

The flowers of Asterales generally require pollinators and provide pollen and/or nectar to wildlife. The seeds are small so don't provide much food, although wildlife often eat the flowers and associated parts.

Restoration Projects:

Annual and herbaceous perennial members of Asterales are used in restoration projects for species diversity. They are used for species diversity, but not the foundation of a restoration.