September Birth Flower
Aster flowers provide a beautiful addition to a fall flower garden. When so many other flowers end of their growing season, asters continue to thrive and provide brilliant color and scent to an otherwise sad landscape. Also known as starworts, frost flowers or Michaelmas daisies, the name aster is derived from the word of Greek meaning “star”.
Asters are an easy-to-grow perennial that can grow well in average soil, but they need full sun. A majority of the aster plants are perennials. Some of them are annuals and biennials. They are one of the people’s favorite choice for the flower arrangements in fall and winter. Asters can grow in all hardiness zones. Plants of this genus are native to temperate areas of the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Africa. Aster is closely related to the chrysanthemum. The flowers resemble those of the daisy, they consist of a central disc surrounded by numerous rays.
Aster Flower Family
The genus aster includes some 600 species of widely distributed flowering plants in the family asteraceae. Asteraceae is the second largest family of flowers. The flower family of aster comprises more than 23000 species and 1600 genera. Aster flower belongs to the genus aster. Some of the largest genera within the family are Vernonia (about 1000 species), Senecio (about 1500 species) and Centaurea and Cousinia (both with around 600 species). There is a branch of botany that is specially dedicated to the sole study of the aster flower family, which is known as synantherology.
The family Asteraceae also contains genera such as Canadanthus, Almutaster, Doellingeria, lonactis, Eucephalus, Eurybia, Oreostemma, Oligoneuron, Symphyotrichum and Sericocarpus. The new world varieties of asters are grouped under these genera. Traditionally, there are 2 subfamilies of aster flower family, namely, Cichorioideae and Asteroideae. In fact, flower family of aster is also known as the sunflower family or daisy family as well. A single flower of aster is actually a group of more than hundred small yellow flowers.
Considering about the entire flower family, asteraceae, then there are plenty of flower species that are beautiful and attractive for the gardens. Briefly, those flowers can be the White Doll’s Daisy, White Snakeroot, Climbing aster, Tall Tickseed, Green and Gold, Trumpetweed, Pale Purple Coneflower, Robin’s Plantain, Sweetscented Joepyeweed, Jerusalem artichoke, Common Sneezeweed, Swamp sunflower, Lobed Tickseed and many more.
Physical Appearance & Characteristics
Asters are daisy-like in appearance, in fact they are a member of the sunflower family. Asters come in white, purples, lavenders, blues, robust red and a variety of pinks. In the center of the flower in all asters are yellow in color (their main characteristic) and the yellow center is actually comprised of many tiny flowerets. Asters have alternate, simple leaves that are toothed or untoothed but rarely lobed. Their leaves are often dark green in color and can also be long, thin and pointed like the flower petals. The plants come in a wide variety, with some are two feet tall or more, while others are less than a foot tall. Both small and larger varieties make good cut flowers for vases and arrangements.
Asters are somewhat resistant to diseases and insects, however they need to be protected from powdery mildew. If disease or insect problems occur, treat early with fungicide and organic or chemical insect repellents. Some of the asters can easily survive a drought. There are other certain asters on the other hand which defy the intense cold of temperature zone T3 and T4. These perennials depend on insects for the purpose of pollination. Bushy aster, the seeds of a type of aster, are spread all over the place by the wind.
Varieties of Asters
The most popular asters are the New England aster and the Monte Casino. Smooth aster and Many-flowered aster, Alma Potschke, Purple dome, September ruby, Puff white, Hella lucy, Jin dai and Magic dark blue are few of the other popular aster plants. Most of the asters found are subspecies of either New York Asters (Aster nova belgii) or New England Asters (Aster novae anglias). Alpine Aster flower is native to the United States and is white in color.
The China aster is the common aster and the one used by florists and flower gardens. China asters are native to China and Japan and it grows 6 to 36 inches tall depending on the variety. This flower is frost resistant. Wild aster contains a lot of calcium.
Meanings and Uses
Historically, aster flowers have had many uses. They are placed upon the graves of French soldiers as a symbol to represent a reversal of the outcome of their battles. These flowers were smoked in ancient times, as it was thought by many people that the smokey perfume would ward off wicked serpents. Aster is the September birth flower. Asters have a flower meaning of patience, love, daintiness and good luck. The plants may also be used for their strong medicinal properties.
Certain varieties of the flower are said to help with migraines, colds and headaches, while others are used to aid in treating the pain of sciatica and muscle spasms. Asters placed in a bouquet with complementing flowers to be given as a gift can be representative of admiration and love. People often present a single or dried flower to their friend or lover as a love charm, as asters were thought to hold the mystic power of drawing forth affection. The aster is considered the other classic autumn flower besides the chrysanthemum.
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