New England Aster

newenglandaster

Aster novae-angliae

Well, it’s October, and it’s starting to get chilly.  Bleh.  And let’s face it, most people are not thinking about flowers now. But there are still flowers out there. And one of the most abundant seen this time of year is the New England aster. Actually, they have been blooming for a few weeks now. You may have noticed them, along roadsides and such. And they will bloom for another few weeks, soon to be overwhelmed by fall foliage. In fact, they are already competing with some of the early fall foliage.

The flowers are medium sized, about 1 to 2 inches wide[i] and like its cousins such as daisies and sunflowers and other similar plants, the flowers are actually comprised of many smaller flowers working together as a unit.[ii] I go into more details about this type of flower in my earlier blog posting: “Black Eyed Susan.” Each plant has a large number of these composite flowers.[iii] The flowers are normally a lavender in color, though sometimes come in other colors, mostly purple or white, sometimes pink.[iv]

As for the plant itself, it can be quite tall, growing from three to seven feet,[v] tall enough to be a basketball player!! It also has a hairy stem and narrow leaves. The plant like to grow in damp or open areas.[vi]  There is also a very common similar plant, the New York Aster, which is closely related, but is smaller, has smooth stems, and the disk flower in  the central part of the bloom tend to be more reddish in color.[vii] No idea if it follows rival sports teams. Another similar plant is the Showy Aster, which has smaller composite flowers that have fewer ray flowers[viii], and arguably less showy than either the New England or New York Aster.

The New England Aster is found throughout New England, and is often sold commercially for gardening[ix]. The closely related New York Aster is also found throughout New England[x], while the Showy Aster is not found in Northern New England.[xi]

[i] Theriet, John W. (revising author) Neiring, William, A. and Olmstead, Nancy C. “National Audubon Society Field Guild to Wildflowers” 2003. Chanticleer Press New York, pg 373-4

[ii]  Author Unknown “Asteraceae” Wikipediahttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asteraceae#Floral_heads 02OCT2016

[iii] Theriet, John W. (revising author) Neiring, William, A. and Olmstead, Nancy C. “National Audubon Society Field Guild to Wildflowers” 2003. Chanticleer Press New York, pg 373-4

[iv] Theriet, John W. (revising author) Neiring, William, A. and Olmstead, Nancy C. “National Audubon Society Field Guild to Wildflowers” 2003. Chanticleer Press New York, pg 373-4

[v] Theriet, John W. (revising author) Neiring, William, A. and Olmstead, Nancy C. “National Audubon Society Field Guild to Wildflowers” 2003. Chanticleer Press New York, pg 373-4

[vi] Theriet, John W. (revising author) Neiring, William, A. and Olmstead, Nancy C. “National Audubon Society Field Guild to Wildflowers” 2003. Chanticleer Press New York, pg 373-4

[vii] Theriet, John W. (revising author) Neiring, William, A. and Olmstead, Nancy C. “National Audubon Society Field Guild to Wildflowers” 2003. Chanticleer Press New York, pg 374-5

[viii] Theriet, John W. (revising author) Neiring, William, A. and Olmstead, Nancy C. “National Audubon Society Field Guild to Wildflowers” 2003. Chanticleer Press New York, pg 375

[ix] Theriet, John W. (revising author) Neiring, William, A. and Olmstead, Nancy C. “National Audubon Society Field Guild to Wildflowers” 2003. Chanticleer Press New York, pg 373-4

[x] Theriet, John W. (revising author) Neiring, William, A. and Olmstead, Nancy C. “National Audubon Society Field Guild to Wildflowers” 2003. Chanticleer Press New York, pg 374-5

[xi] Theriet, John W. (revising author) Neiring, William, A. and Olmstead, Nancy C. “National Audubon Society Field Guild to Wildflowers” 2003. Chanticleer Press New York, pg 375

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