Sandy spots in the Santa Monica Mountains and along the coastal areas are where the woolly aster, a scruffy-looking weed, grows best.

Not much to look at, the woolly aster is part of the aster family and some of its 600 or so cousins are cultivated in gardens.

The name aster comes from the Greek word for star and in England the plants once were commonly called starworts.

Especially in the Northeast, where they are plentiful, asters are considered a source of hay fever.


Around the San Fernando Valley and throughout the surrounding hills, the woolly aster, Corethrogyne filaginifolia, is the most common of the species.

The erect and bushy perennial usually grows between 2 and 3 1/2 feet tall and can often be found in sandy patches along Pacific Coast Highway.

The long, linear leaves fold up against the aster’s stocky stem.

Leaves along the bottom, as in most plants found in dryer climates, are thick.


A crown of flowers tops the otherwise dull aster with color.

About the size of a quarter, the yellow disk blossoms are surrounded by a circle of violet or purple ray flowers.

They bloom between July and October.