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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Wildflower Wednesday: Asteraceaes Rock

Truthfully, I wouldn't have a garden without Asteraceae family members!
Gaillardia and Conoclinium coelestinum, you can see the fluffy seeds developing
Especially at this time of year...That doesn't mean that there aren't asteraceaes blooming in the Spring or Summer. There are, but, come September they take center stage as they step up to the job of feeding the visiting pollinators, birds and mammals as those critters prepare for winter.

an ex-Aster
Here in Tennessee we have an array of marvelous asteraceaes to choose among...In fact, we have 320 different species (world wide there are over 23,000 recognized asteraceae species).  That's a lot of plant material.
Rudbeckia fulgida var fulgida

Composite is another name for an asteraceae flower.  They share some similar characteristics that make identifying them easier. For instance, if you look closely at any of the flowers in this post, you will see that what looks like one single flower is actually a composite of many smaller tube shaped florets. They have disk flowers, ray flowers or a combination of disks and rays. They also have bracts rather than sepals and they need wind or animals to disperse their seeds. 
Vernonia has only disc flowers
Asteraceae is an economically important family.  They're grown for food, cooking oils and medicine.
Verbesina virginica  has both ray and disk flowers.
 These rough and tumble, take of themselves beauties fulfill an important role in a garden ecosystem.

The Joes and Echinaceas are both asteraceaes

 But, you don't have to take my word for it. Just watch your garden and you'll  easily see:
Ex-Aster Symphyotrichum patens
 Which flowers are pollinator magnets,


Which seed heads are beloved of the birds and

Rudbeckia subtomentosa 'Henry Eiler' with disguised Wavy-lined Emerald caterpillar
 Which  flowers provide food and shelter.
Conoclinium coelestinum also known as Blue Mist Flower
In my garden the asteraceaes are always entertaining guests. Of course,  many other plant families have pollen and nectar rich plants, but, I think the asteraceas rock!

So, plant more of them, your garden residents will thank you and you'll be happy, too.

xxoogail

Welcome to Clay and Limestone's Wildflower Wednesday celebration. WW is about sharing and celebrating wildflowers from all over this great big, beautiful world. Join us on the fourth Wednesday of each month. Remember, it doesn't matter if they are in bloom or not; and, it doesn't matter if we all share the same plants. It's all about celebrating wildflowers. Please leave a comment when you add your url to Mr Linky. 


Gail Eichelberger is a gardener and therapist in Middle Tennessee. She loves wildflowers and native plants and thoroughly enjoys writing about the ones she grows at Clay and Limestone. She reminds all that the words and images are the property of the author and cannot be used without written permission.

40 comments:

  1. Hi Gail, if the photos come from your camera, nobody will say they are weeds! They are amazingly beautiful.

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  2. Gail I love all the flowers you are showing in this family....but I adore those ex-asters that I still call asters....they dominate the garden and meadow and make the pollinators happy as many of the others are done blooming up here now.

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  3. Dear Gail, your photos and composites Rock!!! They certainly are popular with the buzzers and flitters here, as well. The more of this genus that gets planted by humans, or plants itself, something at which they excel, the better off the world will be.
    xoxoxo
    Frances

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  4. Beautiful!
    Have a wonderful Wildflower Wednesday!
    Lea
    Lea's Menagerie

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  5. It is always fun to see your wildlings. The company they draw is most welcome in any garden. Happy WW.

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  6. Love your post - the photos are excellent. But, oh, please don't tell me these asters are ex-asters. Ugh... Oh well. I do love that Verbesina; have never seen that before.

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  7. I like how your WW posts have themes. Mine is always a hodge podge, well I guess that's my theme. I try to show as many of the wildflowers as I can, but always end up forgetting some. I didn't get my joe pye weed, rattlesnake master, or wild ageratum, which is lovely right now, blooming in one of my wash tubs, since I was afraid of it spreading too much in the ground.

    Your photos are awesome, as always! I am not familiar with the verbesinia. I sure like it!

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  8. September means spring flowers in the Western Cape, and we have daisies for Africa!

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  9. I just planted a Vernonia. Next year I will have that one blooming. I agree. Asters rules.

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  10. I didn't know that some of the plants were related. (Never thought Joe Pye was related to Rudbeckia!) They are all such great plants for wildlife, and some of them are the hardiest, toughest plants in my garden.

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  11. Thanks to Kathy at Cold Climate Gardening I found you and Wildflower Wednesday. Great meme, very informative, wonderful photos.
    I recently found beechdrops in the woods surrounding my Connecticut home. I love identifying wildflowers and expect to learn lots here.

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    Replies
    1. Isn't it fun to id them...and wowzer Beechdrops! I love Kathy, she is the bestest.

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  12. I also am in love with asters, goldenrods, and other members of this family. Just discovered this meme so I am linking a post I did just the other day - I think it will fit.

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    1. Jason, They are love worthy plants and I am glad to welcome you to WW!

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  13. Hi Gail, I'm new to Wildflower Wednesdays. I've been admiring Prairie Rose's posts in the past and thought this would be a good home for my Baxter State Park blooms. In my garden my goldenrods and asters are fading, but I've enjoyed them earlier this month. Nice to see your garden attracting all the pollinators! I love your action shots.

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    1. Sarah, Welcome to the celebration! Thank you for the kind compliments.

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  14. Great post! I have an aster growing in my garden, but I have no idea which one it is. I got it at a plant swap. It's one of the few things still flowering right now, very profusely. I think it's probably ready for dividing, so it's going in a more prominent place soon. I love that picture of the Henry Eiler with the caterpillar on it that looks like some piece of dead plant matter that dropped on the flower. I'm sure I "see" things like that in my garden all the time, but I never recognize it. I've been thinking of adding a goldenrod, but I need to do some research to decide exactly which one to start with.

    I don't have a post up quite yet, but I'm working on it.

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    1. Alison, I love Zigzag Goldenrod and it seems to not be a spreader like its cousins! Welcome to WW!

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  15. Gail - I'm a mad woman....don't know how, but somehow managed to link to your May post and am thinking - all these people linking May posts, that's hardly kosher....(I bet if I'd opened my eyes, I would have found my own post earlier in the year!) After 10 or so posts, came to my senses - in my defence, I'm coming off a migraine - glad I'm not behind the wheel of a car. That said, thank goodness for the asteracea family this year in the garden - they've been the backbone in this heat and dry. And the fact that they invite so many pollinators of every colour and stripe is simply an enchantment.

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  16. Thank you Gail! I love your fall wildflowers, especially purple ones. I posted some pictures from our trip to the Mt. Rainier National Park. My schedule doesn't allow me to write a lot lately, so it's just pictures. I hope it's OK.

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  17. I profiled some of the plants I found in a wet area of our property, including one creepy one! And I learned a new word, perigynium. All because of Wildflower Wednesday.

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  18. I will plant many more, we have one teeny tiny wild aster growing...hoping for more.

    Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

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  19. I like the Aster family. It is a lovely group of plants. Thanks for sharing them. I've added my own contribution to WW with serviceberries.

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  20. Thanks again for hosting, Gail! I learned so much from my latest excursion into the "wild." I'm a neophyte when it comes to Asters and ex-Asters, but they sure are cheerful little bloomers!

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  21. What lovely blooms you have! Only one of my bloomers is in the Aster family.

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  22. Nice. Love your photos and garden.

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  23. I love that combo of coneflowers and Joe Pye--what a gorgeous show of pink! I've often been surprised when researching a new flower just how many belong to the Aster family; it contains so many of my favorites. And you are so right--the little critters sure love them.

    I'm a little late to the party, but I've joined in with a member of the mint family for this September WW.

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  24. I love your garden photos and I saw you blog posted on "Fairegarden" with Frances who I also love to follow! I also love natives and just moved to western North Carolina a year ago and I am learning so much about natives!

    Thanks for sharing!

    Smiles, Cyndi

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  25. Honeybunch, I loved this wonderful post. I love this family above all others. It is a large and important family, and so many of my Oklahoma natives are proud to be a part of it. Thanks for Wildflower Wednesday. I'm sorry I couldn't get myself together to post for it, but non-aster season is coming here soon.~~Dee

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  26. I agree the ex-asters are wonderful, my garden looks like asterland just now. The pollinators sure do appreciate the asters that bloom in Oct. and Nov.

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  27. Your Asteraceae are all lovely, Gail. I had some Asters that bloomed faithfully every year for many years but finally all disappeared mysteriously. I started some from seed this year so hope for blooms on them next year. Anemone japonica is blooming most in my yard now. I have just a few wildflowers left and some native berries.

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  28. I learnt something new today. Thanks for the post.

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  29. Gail, thanks for hosting and for visiting my post, but we still haven't IDed the mystery wildflower. People have made good guesses based on the bloom but the foliage doesn't match mine.

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  30. I didn't realize how many of those plants were Asteraceae. I want to come back for a visit to see C&L in fall!

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    1. Please do, it's so much prettier than the Time of Green. xo

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  31. Gail, your garden is so gorgeous! After all the posts on FB about lack of rain, it looks like everything rebounded and flourished.

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  32. Hi Gail. Just wanted you to know that I listed you as a nominee for the Sunshine Award. This is one of the Awards that bloggers give to each other for mutual recognition and promotion. There's a little homework involved, see my most recent post for details. If you don't want to bother, no problem. Anyhow, I do think your blog is exceptional, award or no award.

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  33. I really love those photos. They are just lovely. Thanks a lot for the share.

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Let us be grateful to people who make us happy;
they are the charming gardeners
who make our souls blossom.


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