New England Aster - Symphyotrichum novae-angliae
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This very common wildflower can be one of the most abundant insect nectar sources available in fields and meadows in late summer through fall.
New England Aster
Numerous purple-violet flowers with distinctive orange centers grow on a branching stalk at the top of the plant. These perennials are up to 4 feet tall, with dense leaves covered by bristly hairs. The late-blooming wildflowers attract just about every insect active in late summer, including butterflies, moths, honeybees, bumblebees, halictid bees, flies of all sorts, beetles - you name it. These flowers are my favorite for color contrast. The beautiful purple rays offset with the brilliant deep orange-yellow center provides the perfect color backdrop for just about any insect photograph. Bloom time: From August through October.

This plant is commonly found in moist prairies, meadows, roadsides and near streams. It requires well-drained soil and prefers sandy, loamy and clay soils. This species can grow on nutritionally poor soil but prefers rich soil.

New England aster grows well in a sunny location and can succeed in partial shade. Propagation by Seed: Aster novae-angliae seeds should be sown fresh in the fall or spring (Heuser 1997). Pre-chill spring sown seeds to improve germination. When the seedlings are large enough to handle, place them into individual pots and plant them out in the summer. Division of this species should be done in the spring or autumn. Large divisions can be planted into their permanent positions whereas smaller clumps should be kept in a cold frame until they are growing well.

Butterflies, bumblebees and honeybees love this flower. These pictures were taken where it grows wild, in the forest preserves near Chicago, Illinois. There are quite a few cultivated versions of this plant available for home gardens. Mix with goldenrod or native grasses for a stunning Autumn display.

  • 'Purple Dome' is a compact, bushy version with very dark purple flowers, sometimes double. Blooms September - October. Good cut flower, grows in sun or light shade.

  • 'Lachsglut' has large, stunning hot pink flowers. Grows to 4 feet in full sun.

New England aster is a perennial with several erect stems in clumps, stems 0.8 to 2 meters, densely spreading pubescent, thirty or more nodes below the branches of the inflorescence. The leaves are lanceolate to elliptic lanceolate, two to nine centimeters long and one to two centimeters wide. The disc flowers are yellow, hermaphrodite (having both male and female organs) and are pollinated by bees, butterflies, flies, beetles and moths.

Aster novae-angliae ranges from Quebec to Alberta, south to North Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico.


Monarch Butterfly

Honey Bee

Halictid Bee

Bumblebee
Cabbage White Butterfly
Cabbage White Butterfly
This plant is commonly found in moist prairies, meadows, roadsides and near streams. It requires well-drained soil and prefers sandy, loamy and clay soils. This species can grow on nutritionally poor soil but prefers rich soil.

New England aster grows well in a sunny location and can succeed in partial shade. Propagation by Seed: Aster novae-angliae seeds should be sown fresh in the fall or spring (Heuser 1997). Pre-chill spring sown seeds to improve germination. When the seedlings are large enough to handle, place them into individual pots and plant them out in the summer. Division of this species should be done in the spring or autumn. Large divisions can be planted into their permanent positions whereas smaller clumps should be kept in a cold frame until they are growing well.

References:
1. USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program. Germplasm Resources Information Network - (GRIN)

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Common  Flowers
A flower is the reproductive structure found in flowering plants (plants of the division Magnoliophyta, also called angiosperms). The flower contains the plant's reproductive organs, and its function is to produce seeds. After fertilization, portions of the flower develop into a fruit containing the seeds. 
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