Flower of the Day: Frost Aster

aka hairy aster, awl aster; Symphyotrichum pilosum; Asteraceae (aster family)

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So far this year I’ve found 19 different species of aster (Symphyotrichum or Eurybia). I haven’t managed to identify them all, but they are clearly different from each other. This one, though, I’m pretty sure of.

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Note the characteristically hairy stem in the photo to the right.

Frost aster is another native found in eastern North America (from Texas through Quebec). It grows up to three feet tall in full sun and moist to dry conditions.  I found this specimen growing out of the cracks along one of my favorite rocky bluffs upstream of Carderock.

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Flower of the Day: Black-Eyed Susan

Rudbeckia hirta var. pulcherima (aka R. serotina); Asteraceae (aster family)

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Deisgnated the “floral emblem” of the state of Maryland in 1918 by the General Assembly, this short but showy plant grows almost everywhere in the US and Canada (but not in Arizona or Nevada).  It likes sunny habitats, and is one of twenty two species of Rudbeckia native to the US.

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Strangely enough, I almost never find them in my target area.  I found this one in early October, the first one I’d seen in the wild this year.

Though they look like sunflowers (and are related), the Rudbeckias tend to have reflexed ray flowers and cone-shaped disks.  See also tall coneflower (fotd Aug. 21) and purple-headed sneezeweed (fotd Aug. 25).

Flower of the Day: Lowrie’s Aster

Symphyotrichum lowrieanum; Asteraceae (aster family)

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Lowrie’s aster is an eastern US native, ranging from New York to Georgia.  It’s a woodland plant that grows to three feet tall, with light blue (sometimes almost white) flowers.

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It’s distinguished from the more common heart-leaved aster (S. cordifolium) primarily by the winged petioles.

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Flower of the Day: Jerusalem Artichoke

aka sunchoke,topinambour; Helianthus tuberosus; Asteraceae (aster family)

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The Jerusalem artichoke is from the New World (not Jerusalem), and is only distantly related to the globe artichoke (Cynara cardunculus) that you buy in the grocery store, though they are both in the aster family.  Globe artichokes are a type of thistle, actually, while this plant is a type of sunflower with an edible root.  It grows up to 10 feet, with characteristically rough, hairy stems and leaves:

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Jerusalem artichoke is native to most of the US except the desert southwest, and is considered a weed by some authorities.  In this area you can find it on the forest edge along the riverbanks.