Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Asters on the prairie

with 8 comments

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In a post on October 8th I asked “What would autumn be without asters?” The aster shown then was a species (I don’t know which one) that produces flower heads with some space separating them. In contrast, today’s photograph shows white heath aster, Symphyotrichum ericoides, which gives rise to dense masses of flower heads. (If you’d like a closer look at flowers of this species, you can check out a post from a year less a day ago.)

I photographed this compact floral display at Southeast Metropolitan Park on October 30th during the same session that produced the recent pictures of wolly croton and a katydid. Note the bitterweed flowers in the background and the young mesquite trees at the upper left and in the distance.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzmann

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 12, 2012 at 6:15 AM

8 Responses

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  1. Das sieht zauberhaft aus!!!


    November 12, 2012 at 7:28 AM

    • I’ll agree that it looks magical. I’m happy to see these dense asters around Austin now.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 12, 2012 at 7:41 AM

  2. What a beautiful display! Asters have been on my mind – a lady called the local garden show on Saturday and asked for help with a little lavender and white flower that was taking over her yard. The host assumed she was talking about Virginia Buttonweed, but I suspect she actually was seeing Symphyotrichum subulatum, which is popping up again.

    Now, I’ll keep an eye out for this one, too.


    November 12, 2012 at 8:02 AM

    • The dense, low displays of this species are distinctive, at least when the plant reaches a certain size. I’ve seen them along freeways as well as in more natural places, so now that you’ve been alerted to them I suspect you’ll see one in your coastal area (where the USDA map shows they’re found).

      As for the Symphyotrichum subulatum, it does have a predilection for turning up in people’s lawns, so you may well be right in your guess about the species that the caller was complaining about. I’d rather have a lawn full of it than of alien grass, but what else would you expect from a native plant enthusiast?

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 12, 2012 at 8:51 AM

  3. Beautiful. Like a fresh dusting of snow on a gorgeous fall landscape.


    November 12, 2012 at 8:56 AM

    • We get a lot more of this than we get of snow in Austin, where a snowfall is a rare occurrence; we had none at all in the winter of 2011–2102.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 12, 2012 at 9:14 AM

  4. Asters have always been one of my favorite flowers and I can enjoy them here in Pennsylvania from August until the hardest freezes in November. I love it when they look like snow!


    November 12, 2012 at 9:27 AM

    • It’s interesting how those of you up north (if I can extrapolate from two comments) associate asters with snow. Not surprising, I suppose, with all the white rays of many types of asters. Even after a cold front came through last night, the high today will still be in the 60s.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 12, 2012 at 9:47 AM

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