Friday, October 1, 2010

October Asters

Nothing says "Fall" like the bloom of asters. With a vast array of species represented in Ohio, one can only hope to learn a few new species each year and go for the long term achievement.

Steve McKee (Richland Co. Parks) and Jim Bissell ( Cleveland Museum Nat. History) both give excellent programs which offered keys to Ohio's asters, if you are serious about learning them. Either key is an welcomed resource for sorting this confusing species.

Shale Barren Aster, Symphyotrichum oblongifolium is a major rarity only found in three of Ohio's counties. This one was found on the edge of Lynx Prairie in Adams County. Of all the asters, the Shale Barren could be recognized by site affiliation and the enlarged buds- which have a swollen appearance.

Also known as aromatic aster, this creeping flower is right at home in stone barrens, and would make a likely candidate for a rock garden. There are a surprising number of "on-line" plant nurseries offering this gem.

And when is an "Aster" not an aster? When it is Golden Aster (aka Maryland Goldenaster), Chrysopsis mariana. True, this southern species and warm weather friend is in the Asteraceae family, but it is not found in the genus we know as "asters." Not that it would matter to anyone but a botanist. Everyone else seems to enjoy this little yellow aster at face value. What's not to love?

And one parting shot of the Stiff Aster, Ionactis linariifolius - seen in yesterday's post. Its stiff needle-like leaves make it a stand-out among the asters. This, too, could make a smashing rock garden plant if sited properly.

Enjoy your fall weekend, and pay particular attention to the many species of asters out there!~

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