Asters asters everywhere!

doellingeria_umbellata

Confession time – I am not an expert in Asters. The running joke between my husband and I is that if I don’t know what a plant is, it’s an Aster. This statement is not far off the mark! There are roughly 23600 species globally in the Asteraceae, depending on how picky taxonomists are. The Flora of North America has three volumes dedicated to 2413 species, about 270 of those in Quebec. Asteraceae is characterized by the presence of a composite flower or a head of multiple flowers with ray (outer) and/or disk (center) flowers. A classic ray and disk Asteraceae is the daisy. The children’s game “(S)he loves, (s)he loves me not” involves picking off a single ray flower at a time. Sunflower seeds are the fruit from disk flowers.

Some genera of Asters are easier to identify than others. Goldenrods, dandelions and the aforementioned daisies are pretty easy to tell apart. What about the not so obvious ones?  Ray colour, leaf arrangement, shape and edges, presence of hairs, height and habitat are all important. Haul out your identification book and see if they have a special section for Asteraceae. I am pretty sure this is Doellingeria umbellata mainly based on habitat, inflorescence shape (flower arrangement) and ray colours.

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