Late purple aster seen at Darling Preserve the other day, one of a ton of different asters marking — it was inevitable — autumn and the decline of lively, exuberant growth. Lovely, but always remind me of the cold winds just around the corner.
Aster is herbaceous plant that belongs to the family of sunflowers. More than 600 species of plants were known as asters before implementation of modern, molecular methods of analysis. According to the latest classification system, only 180 species of plants are recognized as true asters. They originate from temperate regions of Eurasia. Aster grows on the moist, well-drained soil in areas that provide plenty of sun. People cultivate and use aster in decorative purposes at least 4.000 years. Aster is still popular and widely cultivated in gardens because of its beautiful flowers that are also often used in the preparation of various floral arrangements and bouquets.
Interesting Aster Facts:
Aster has erect stem with woody base. It can reach from 8 inches to 8 feet in height, depending on the species.
Aster produces simple leaves that can be long, thin or lanceolate-shaped. Leaves of some species are serrated on the edges. They are dark green colored and alternately arranged on the stem.
Aster develops flower head that consists of 300 small flowers located centrally and numerous petals (ray florets) on the periphery. Miniature flowers in the center of the flower head are always yellow, while surrounding petals can be white, purple, blue, lavender, red or pink colored.
Yellow-colored, miniature tubular flowers contain both types of reproductive organs (bisexual florets). Beautifully colored petals, or ray florets, on the periphery of the flower head are usually sterile (do not contain reproductive structures).
Aster blooms from July to October. Fragrant, colorful flowers attract numerous bees, butterflies and flies, that are responsible for the pollination of this plant.
Fruit of aster is achene equipped with wings which facilitate dispersal of seed by wind.
Aster propagates via seed or division of the stem. Seed starts to germinate 15 to 30 days after planting.
Name “aster” originates from Greek word “aster” which means “star”. Name refers to the star-like shape of flower heads.
Asters are also known as “frost flowers” because florists often use these flowers during the autumn and winter for the preparation of various floral arrangements.
Asters are ideal present for the people born in September and for the people that celebrate 20th wedding anniversary.
Aster symbolizes patience, love, good luck and daintiness.
All participants of the Hungarian revolution that took place at the beginning of the 20th century in Budapest were wearing asters. This event is also known as “Aster revolution” today.
Flowers of aster were smoked in the past due to widespread belief that smoke of this plant protects against evil spirits.
Flowers of some aster species are used in treatment of migraine, common cold, muscle spasms and sciatica.
Most species of aster are perennial plants (life span: more than 2 years), and only few species are annual (life span: one year) or biennial (life span: two years).