VESTAL, NY (WSKG) — The Smooth
Blue Aster blooms for about a month between September and October.
They are somewhere between the size of dime and a quarter with lavender petals, and the sundisc changes color through the blooming period–from yellow to purple to brown.
What we may think of as the aster’s petals are actually each a complete flower, and the sundisc is a dense collection of flowers.
“While each flower head
appears to be one flower, it’s actually many flowers packed together into one flowerhead as a structure to attract pollinators,” explained Dan Waldhorn, with the New York Department of Environmental Conservation.
They are called compound flowers, similar to daisies, sunflowers, and goldenrod which share a family with the Smooth Blue.
Smooth Blue is one of about 200 species of asters native to New York.
“The aster family is arguably the largest family of flowering plants in the world,” Waldhorn said. “It’s sort of tied with the orchids, but the distribution of asters is far more widespread around the world.”
It grows on roadsides, in fields, or the edges of wooded areas, in full-sun or partial shade.
“And it does well in rocky soil. Particularly calcareous soils associated with limestones,” Waldhorn added.
It can also be planted in a home garden to attract bees and other pollinators.
“Because it does pretty well in dry soils, it’s a pretty good candidate for somebody trying to plant like a pollinator meadow or a pollinator garden, where you may not want to water that as frequently,” Waldhorn explained.
It can be overwhelmed when planted near taller, more aggressive plants. They are perennial, they will come back year after year.