Sunday, September 11, 2011

Where tears fell

White Wood Asters are late summer and fall food for wildlife

According to legend the Greek goddess Asterea began to cry when she looked down upon the earth and saw no flowers. Asters bloomed where her tears fell. Asters were chosen to decorate the graves of French soldiers to symbolize the wish that things had turned out differently. And so today, when we remember the thousands of people we lost on September 11, 2001, the wild wood aster seems a fitting tribute.

This native plant (Aster divaricatus) is a late blooming, shade tolerant wildflower and in New England some even last until the killing frosts of November. Few people know that they provide a late nectar source for butterflies and other insects and if you allow the seed heads to remain through the fall and winter, wild aster seed serves as food for sparrows, goldfinches, chipmunks and wild turkeys.

There are over 120 species of the genus aster found in the United States. Asters are primarily known for their fall flowering, especially in fields. But wild asters can also be found in swamps, bogs and woods. Some of these species can be a wonderful addition to native meadows planted to replace lawns. The large double-flowered asters seen in catalogs and garden centers belong to a different genus native to Asia.

Asters are the birth flower for September. The star-like flowers are said to be "stars fetched from the night skies and planted on the fields of day."

A song that seems right for this somber day is Peter Murphy's Cuts You Up. Click here to listen.

No comments:

Post a Comment