New England Asters


Sumner, United States

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Autumn Asters on Carpenter’s Prairie near my home in northeast Iowa.
The little bee in the corner was a bonus!! :-)

New England Aster
Aster novae-angliae
Aster family (Asteraceae)

Description: This native perennial plant is up to 4’ tall, consisting of a central stem that branches occasionally near the top. The central stem and side branches are covered with short white hairs. The alternate leaves are up to 4" long and 1" wide, becoming smaller as they ascend the flowering stems. They are lanceolate or oblong, pubescent, and clasp the stem at the base of each leaf. Their margins are smooth, but ciliate.

Clusters of composite flowers occur at the ends of the upper stems. Each composite flower consists of numerous gold or yellow disk florets, which are surrounded by 30 or more ray florets that are purple, lavender, or light pink. Each composite flower is about 1½" across. A mature plant may bear two dozen or more of such flowers, putting forth a showy display. There is no noticeable floral scent. The blooming period occurs from late summer to fall, and lasts about 2 months. The root system consists of a stout caudex with fibrous roots, which often produces short thick rhizomes, enabling this plant to spread vegetatively. The achenes are longitudinally ribbed and slightly hairy, with tufts of hair that enable them to be carried off in the wind.

Cultivation: The preference is full or partial sun, and moist to average conditions. The soil can contain loam or clay. This plant can become stressed out by hot dry weather, often dropping its lower leaves in response, while the remaining leaves may turn yellow or brown. Another problem is that the stems often flop over in the absence of supportive vegetation. Powdery mildew often afflicts the leaves during the cool, moist weather of the fall. This is an easy plant to grow in moist conditions, but it is more difficult to maintain in good condition throughout the year. Sometimes it becomes aggressive and spreads vegetatively.

Range & Habitat: New England Aster occurs throughout Illinois, except in a few southern counties. It is a common plant. Habitats include moist to mesic black soil prairies, clay prairies, thickets, moist meadows in woodlands, open areas along rivers and lakes, fens, abandoned fields, open areas along railroads and roadsides, and miscellaneous waste areas. Some populations are probably escapes from cultivated plants. This plant colonizes disturbed areas readily, but it also occurs in high quality habitats.

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wildflowers prairie purple asters

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