Aster dumosus


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We have several species of Aster, but this is the picture i chose.

Sunflower Family (Asteraceae)

Gangly plant with stiff stalks and leafy branches, each one terminating in at least one flower (1/2" - 3/4" across). Usually white rays, but sometimes a pale lavender. The central disk is yellow to brown. The leaves are narrow lance-shaped affairs with an irregular margin. The leaves on the branches are smaller than the main stalk.

Late July to October

Sandy or marshy soil with lots of sunlight. Open meadows and roadsides.

The asters, like the goldenrods, daisies, bonesets, and several other types, are composite flowers. This means that rather than one flower, the central disk is composed of many tiny small flowers each with their own pistil and stamen. Get a magnifying glass and you'll be surprised to see what looks like hundreds of flowers compacted together on the head. Notice too, that an individual flower will have 'rings' of mature flowers so that not all of these many tiny flowers are producing nectar (or pollen) at the same time. A bee will spend a good deal of time probing it, and then moving on to the next flower, going for the 'good stuff'.

The rays of a composite (what we call the petals) are the second type of flower. This way a visiting bee can cross-polinate literally thousands of flowers by visiting one many-headed plant. Its evolutionary advantage is one of a great genetic diversity, and another reason we have as many as 292 genera, accounting for thousands of different species.


My observations about this plant can be found at:


For a picture of the showy New England Aster, go to Stein's Virtual Herbarium

A picture of the Californa or Cudweed Aster, try Henry W. Coe State Park Wildflowers

Several pictures of the White Wood Aster of Cornell University is at this site

NatureNorth.com (Manitoba Wildflowers) has some more information on Asters.