A Tale of Two Asters

We saw two “asters”, daisy-like plants, on our visit to Toni Robinson Waterfront Trail (TRWT) on 12-8-2019 led by Terry Greene (Class of 2019).  One of them was the prevalent and perennial climbing aster (Symphyotrichum carolinianum), shown above.  Once known as Aster carolinianus, this sprawling plant flowers profusely, especially in the fall, and attracts bevies of bees and other pollinators.

We frequently have enjoyed seeing this flowering plant growing on the banks of the St. Sebastian River, as well as at Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge where Ken Gonyo planted it in the former butterfly garden area.  Its flowers are more than 1 1/2″ wide.

The other aster that we saw was rice button aster (Symphyotrichum dumosus).  Also known as bushy aster, this plant is very variable and is shown below at TRWT …

We also have seen it growing at the Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area.  Its basal leaves are bushy with lance-shaped, irregularly-toothed leaves.  Leaves are absent or very narrow on flowering stems, and its flowers are 1/2 to 1″ wide.

Climbing aster is available from many native plant nurseries, but rice button aster is not.  Visit the Florida Association of Native Nurseries website to check availability.

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