Purple and Gold: A Royal Autumn Display

In my area, this is a season where you can find fields of bright gold and purple. These colours are brought to you mostly by goldenrod, and a purple flower that I finally just identified today. I’ve already done goldenrod (featured here), so I thought I should introduce its buddy.

Today’s species of the week is:

New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae)

Image

Paired with the stunning gold of goldenrod (please do not mistake it with ragweed), you will very often find these complementary purple flowers right next door. (It’s funny how nature does that sometimes. I wonder why. Did our artistic rules about aesthetic matching develop from nature? That’s an interesting question….someone should look into that. But, as usual….I digress.)

There are quite a few different asters. The New England one seems to be the closest fit. The Ontario wildflowers site also says it is the most common.  If you happen to disagree with my identification, please let me know.Image

Identification:

New England Asters display large (3cm), rose-purple flowers with very numerous petals in the summer and fall. Centres are yellow. Flower heads cluster at the end of branches. They show up in open areas, fields and roadsides. The leaves are clasping (meaning they surround the stem).

Uses:

New England Asters are popular with bees and butterflies, supplying an important source of nectar. The flower is supposedly edible, and put in salads by some. However, please don’t take my word on that. I have not tried them.

As an interesting side note, it was used by the Iroquois (First Nation) in love potions!

 

Sources:

http://ontariowildflowers.com/main/species.php?id=25

http://www.ediblewildfood.com/new-england-aster.aspx

 

Here is another blog post about New England asters:

http://joansgarden.wordpress.com/tag/new-england-aster/

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Posted on October 2, 2013, in Species of the week, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. ❤ I see these around my college campus all the time.. I keep meaning to pick some for my daughter.. Now that I know what kind they I will definetly have to do it now and teach her what I just learned! 🙂

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  2. I remember studying both of these flowers with my older kids, one autumn many years ago, using our “Handbook of Nature Study” by Anna Botsford Comstock. It’s fun to realize how interesting even common wildflowers are.

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  3. Rob McAllister

    I’ve always just know them as a fall aster. They’re everywhere, here on the Niagara Escarpment.

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  4. Hey nice reference material on asters.In my neck of the woods-central Illinois-I don’t see many asters as they really stick out! I read they are more common in the NW (US).Thx for the like!

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  5. My last refetence should of been NE (US) not NW.

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