Natural Highlights: Heath Aster


The blooms of Heath Asters, also called White Asters and White Heath Asters, can still be seen in the fields and edges along the Wolf River Greenway at Epping Way, as well as in many other open, sunny places where native plants thrive.  The yellow centers of its white daisy-like flowers are now turning brown and going to seed..

 As a member of the huge Aster Family (Asteraceae), the heath aster's compound or composite flowers are really clusters of numerous central yellow "disc" flowers surrounded by about about 12 white "ray" flowers.  This concentration of pollen and nectar in an easily accessible, platform-shaped structure makes the Heath Aster (Symphyotrichum ericoides) and its relatives very attractive to a host of pollinating insects in late summer and fall.  This plant is also sought by the Pearl Crescent Butterfly as the host for its caterpillars.

This Heath Aster occurs in much of North America, from Canada to northern Mexico.  It is tough and drought-tolerant, and spreads by undergound rhizomes in a addition to seed disperal.  It makes a nice addition to the home landscape, especially as a border plant.

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Posted by Cathy Justis at 10:39 AM