Purple-stemmed Aster,  Symphyotrichum puniceum
(formerly Aster puniceus  what happened?)
Asteraceae or Sunflower Family

Plant Thick-stemmed plant, 2-8 feet tall.  Stems red, hairy.  Flowerheads with a yellow cluster of disc flowers and many narrow blue-violet, pale violet or lilac (rarely white) ray flowers.  Entire head 1 to 1.5 inches across.  Lightly toothed leaves narrow gradually to a base that clasps the stem.  Blooms in the fall.

Native species of swamps and wet places.  In Wildwood can be found in the wet ditches along the bikeway.

There are many asters in the Park and they are difficult to tell apart.  The reddish stems and wet habitat of this species make it one of the easier ones to identify.  The similar crooked-stemmed aster (Symphyotrichum prenanthoides) is shorter, has zigzag stems and leaves that flare out at the clasping base and likes somewhat drier habitats.