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Floral Library

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Also Known As: Heath Aster

Botanical Name: Aster ericoides

Pronunciation: A-ster e-ri-KOI-deez

Family Name: Compositae (aster)

Origin: Mostly Eastern US, ME to GA and TX

Common Relatives: sunflower, daisy, gerbera, chrysanthemum

Introduction: The name derives from the Latin word for "star," after its star-like flower shape. Of the over 600 species of aster, some are cultivated perennials, some are classed as weeds, though this takes nothing away from their abundant beauty in the autumnal countryside of the Northeastern U.S. These miniscule but innumerable flowers have healing properties for humans and their seeds are a fall and winter food for songbirds. In arrangements, they will last up to 12 days.

Interesting Facts:

  • Latin for “star,” after its star-like flower shape, the aster was originally recognized for its healing properties. It was said that, when “beaten with old hogs grease, and applied,” that aster was good for "the biting of a mad dogge".
  • The specific epithet name ericoides means heath like in reference to their growth habits being somewhat similar to heaths.
  • The Compositae or aster family is vast, with over 20,000 species, and is also one of the most developed families. It was named Compositae because the flowers are actually a "composite" of many individual flowers into one head. Hence, when children pull one "petal" off at a time, saying "she/he loves me, loves me not", they are actually removing a complete flower, not just a petal.
  • While this is a good filler flower, foliage yellowing and/or blackening can be a problem. Excessive storage is one cause for these problems. Only using cultivars less prone to these problems is the best preventative cure.
  • Many, star-like flowers in loose, branching clusters at stem ends
  • dicotyledon, leaves not parallel veined
Availability: year-round

Flower Color: white with yellow center

Fragrance: none

Decorative Life: 8-12

Special Care Tips: Remove bottom leaves if present, recut stems under water and place in plain tap water containing regular household bleach (about 20 drops [1/4 teaspoon] per quart).

Special Concerns:

Ethylene Sensitivity: no

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