Asters in the Woods

lorilee

Sumner, United States

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Artist's Description

Beautiful Wood Asters in the woods along
Lake Meyers in northeast Iowa. USA

Wood Aster
Aster cordifolius
Aster family (Asteraceae)

Description: This perennial plant is 1-3’ tall, branching occasionally in the upper half. The light green to reddish brown stems are usually glabrous; sometimes the central stem has sparse lines of hairs. The alternate leaves are up to 5" long and 3" across (excluding the petioles), becoming smaller as they ascend the stems; they are medium to dark green above and light to medium green below. The lower leaves are cordate, while the upper leaves are cordate-ovate or ovate; their margins are coarsely serrated. Leaf upper surfaces are glabrous, while their lower surfaces are either glabrous or there are hairs along the major veins. The narrow petioles of the leaves are about one-half to almost as long as their blades (up to 3½" in length); they are either unwinged or slightly winged, becoming shorter among the upper leaves. The upper stem terminates in a panicle of flowerheads about ½-1½’ long. This panicle is longer than it is wide and it is more broad toward the bottom than the apex. When upper lateral stems are present, much smaller panicles may be produced. The central stalk, lateral branches, and peduncles of each panicle are light to medium green, terete, and glabrous to short-pubescent.

Each small flowerhead is about ½" across, consisting of 7-15 ray florets that surround a similar number of disk florets. The petaloid rays of these flowerheads are lavender, light blue-violet, or less often white; they are linear-oblong in shape. The corollas of the disk florets are short-tubular in shape; these corollas are initially cream-colored or pale yellow, but they later become pale purple to reddish purple with age. The apices of these corollas are 5-lobed; these lobes are short and erect. The base of each flowerhead is surrounded by slender floral bracts (phyllaries) that overlap each other in several series. These scaly bracts are light green, except for diamond-shaped patches of dark green toward their tips; they are linear-lanceolate to narrowly lanceolate in shape and about 3-5 mm. in length. The peduncles of the flowerheads are short (less than ½" in length). Among the branches of each panicle, there are leafy bracts up to 1" long; they are elliptic or linear-oblong in shape. The blooming period occurs from late summer into the fall and lasts about 1-2 months. Afterwards, the florets are replaced by achenes with small tufts of white hair. Individual achenes are 2-3 mm. long and oblongoid-oblanceoloid in shape. The root system is fibrous and short-rhizomatous. This aster reproduces by reseeding itself and vegetatively through its rhizomes.

Cultivation: The preference is light shade or partial sun, moist to dry-mesic conditions, and soil that contains loam, clay-loam, or some rocky material. Occasionally the foliage is affected by powdery mildew and other kinds of disease organisms during the fall. During hot dry weather, the lower leaves may wilt and fall off. Plant size is variable depending on the fertility of the soil and moisture conditions. Plants that are grown in shade will produce smaller panicles of flowers than those that are grown in more sunlight.

Range & Habitat: Habitats include moist to dry deciduous woodlands, woodland borders, areas adjacent to woodland paths, thinly wooded bluffs, shaded areas along streambanks, and rocky wooded slopes.

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flowers wildflowers asters

Artwork Comments

  • lorilee
  • Heloisa Castro
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  • Rick  Friedle
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  • Tom Gomez
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