September 21, 2010

A Walk in the Woods: Late Blooms

Although we have moved past summer––tomorrow is the first day of fall––there are new blooms in the woods and fields, adding their color to the fading goldenrod and the purple asters. It seems that the late blooming time has made for small flowers, sometimes very numerous, but still small: 1/2 to 1 inch wide. The yellow flowers above are even smaller than that, clustered along an arching stem. I assume that they're a type of goldenrod, later blooming than the more widely seen plume-like form. They look very pretty massed on a bank in the woods, the bright yellow like frothy points of light.

Asters are the flower of the moment, and many variations on them are blooming now. The Flat-Topped White Aster (at least that's what I think it is) is a very tall plant at 4 or 5 feet, with a wide loose spray of blooms. It is quite dramatic, in a restrained sort of way.

These tiny flowers, 1/2 inch wide, add subtle brightness to the changing colors around them. I particularly like the purpling centers of the flowers: this darker value of the petal color seems a deliberate aesthetic decision on the part of a designer.

I think this tiny plant is called Stiff Aster, probably because of the needle-like leaves that recall a cedar's needles.

This white aster was growing in a mass alongside a group of maidenhair ferns, a beautifully designed grouping. The 1 inch flowers with their swept back rays and heart shaped leaves looked very elegant with the ferns. It is a pleasure to see all these delicate flowers before the explosion of color soon to come.


  1. Oh, don't you just love all the profusion of asters and goldenrods? The top g0ldenrod is a favorite, Solidago caesia, blue-stemmed g'rod. You are right about the flat-topped wh. a. Some of the asters are wretchedly hard to id -- there are several kinds of heart-leaved asters and they'll make your head spin. Look at that stiff aster! That's one I've never seen. Its scientific name is Aster linariifolius, flax-leaved. Or the new genus it's in now -- Ionactis.The taxonomists have decided that the true Asters are only in the Old World (wish I knew why, but I'm sure they have good reasons), and have split ours into numerous new genera, which will take a while to learn...

  2. hi Susan, how interesting that now here in the 'New World' we have our own Asters. I'm surprised that the Stiff Aster is a rare find. It is true that I only found one small grouping, which was at the side of a sandy area of the path. I'll now keep an eye out for more.