Spiny aster, Wolfweed, Mexican devil-weed

Leucosyris spinosa (Benth.) Greene

Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)


Spiny aster is a native, warm-season perennial that can grow to more than 3 feet tall. It is also called wolfweed, Mexican devil-weed or devilweed aster. It colonizes areas via underground rhizomes and can infest a fairly large area.

The plant is characterized by green stems with stripes, occasional spines on the stems and solitary sunflowers that have white petals and small, yellow flowers in the center disk.

Small leaves are present for a brief period in the spring when the young stems are succulent. The leaves drop off after 2 to 3 weeks, and the stems begin conducting photosynthesis. The plant flowers in the summer and fall.

Because only some of the mature stems survive through the winter and continue growth and development the next season, mature stands of spiny aster often have an abundance of dead stems. A mature community may support more than 100 stems per square meter.

Spiny aster's forage value is poor for livestock and wildlife.


Spiny aster can grow abundantly along lowland streams and on roadsides, weedy slopes, stream banks, ditches, depressions, bottomlands, cultivated fields (chiefly cotton and alfalfa) and riverbanks. It invades sites that have a high potential for forage production and upland sites where the soils have a high clay content and a high water-holding capacity.