3. Aster albescens (Candolle) Wallich ex Handel-Mazzetti, Acta Horti Gothob. 12: 205. 1938.
小舌紫菀 xiao she zi wan
Amphirhapis albescens Candolle, Prodr. 5: 343. 1836; Microglossa albescens (Candolle) C. B. Clarke.
Shrubs, 30-400 cm tall. Stems many branched, erect; old branches brownish, ascending; current-year branches yellow-brown, densely or laxly leafy, sometimes villosulous to tomentulose, and sometimes sparsely, minutely stipitate glandular. Leaves reduced distally, sessile; blade narrowly to broadly lanceolate, ovate, elliptic, or oblong-lanceolate, (2-)3-17(-20) × (0.5-)1-3(-12.5) cm, abaxially glabrous or sparsely to densely appressed villosulous to tomentulose, eglandular or sometimes sparsely to densely minutely stipitate glandular, adaxially glabrous or scabridulous to scabrous, eglandular or rarely sparsely minutely stipitate glandular, veins (both surfaces) sparsely to moderately villosulous and usually sparsely minutely stipitate glandular, subpapery, midvein and pinnate lateral veins abaxially prominent, base cuneate or attenuate, margin flat to revolute, entire or remotely serrulate to coarsely serrate, teeth mucronulate, apex acute to acuminate, mucronulate. Capitula 5-50 (per branch) in terminal compound corymbiform synflorescences, ca. 0.7 cm in diam.; peduncles slender, 5-10 mm, bracts subulate, moderately villosulous to densely tomentulose (hairs white or light brown), sparsely to moderately minutely stipitate glandular. Involucres campanulate, 4-7 × 4-7 mm; phyllaries 4- or 5-seriate, unequal; outer phyllaries distally green, sometimes tip purplish, ovate to lanceolate, 1-2.5 mm, abaxially glabrous or sparsely villosulous to tomentulose, sometimes minutely stipitate glandular, margin narrowly scarious, erose, distally ciliate; inner phyllaries distally or only tip reddish purple, lanceolate to linear-lanceolate, 3-5 × 0.5-1 mm, margin broadly scarious, erose, distally ciliate, midvein distally swollen, translucent, apex acute. Ray florets 10-25, white, pink, or purple, tube hairy above, lamina 2-7 × 0.5-1.2 mm, glabrous, eglandular; disk florets yellow, sometimes becoming purplish, 4-6 mm, limb narrowly campanulate, 2.5-3.5 mm, base sparsely to moderately hairy, lobes spreading to reflexed, triangular, 1-2 mm, glabrous, eglandular or glandular. Achenes obovoid, 2-2.7 mm, sparsely to moderately strigillose, 4-8-veined. Pappus 3-seriate, straw-colored, sometimes purplish; outer bristles slender, 0.2-1 mm; inner bristles 2-4.5 mm, acute; innermost bristles 3-6 mm, clavate. Fl. Jun-Sep, fr. Aug-Oct.
Margins of deciduous or coniferous forests and thickets, open or grazed meadows, shrublands, seepage or damp areas, streamsides, ditch or field margins, disturbed areas and cut or disturbed forests, hills to alpine regions; 500-4100 m. Gansu, Guizhou, Hubei, S Shaanxi, Sichuan, Xizang, Yunnan [Bhutan, N India, Kashmir, Myanmar, Nepal].
Leaf shape, size, and indumentum are variable in this species; thus, many ± distinct varieties were described, some of which do not appear to warrant recognition. Some varieties are said to be closer to or intermediate between other species. A biosystematic and molecular phylogenetic study of this complex is required. Although not formally recognized here, the varieties are listed below with their main features and comments.