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Discover Nature: New England Asters

Clusters of bright purple flowers with dense, narrow petals surround deep yellow centers atop tall green stalks.
New England asters bloom from August through October, and contribute to the beauty of fall in Missouri.

This week on Discover Nature, we’ll look for one of Missouri’s late-blooming native wildflowers.

    

 

The New England aster is the tallest of Missouri’s native asters – growing up to eight feet – dotted with dozens of quarter-sized flower heads, usually in shades of purple, with a yellow disk in the center. 

 

Members of the Daisy family, these hardy wildflowers tend to bloom earlier than most other asters, and stay in flower for longer.  

 

Look for these flowers from August through October in bottomland prairies, or moist depressions of upland prairies, fens, bases of bluffs, stream banks, pond- and lake edges, as well as pastures, fencerows, ditches, railroads and roadsides.  

 

Many bees, flies, butterflies, and skippers visit the flowers, aiding the cross-pollination process on which these flowers depend for reproduction. Moth caterpillars and various other insects eat the leaves.  Deer and some other mammals eat the foliage, and wild turkeys eat the seeds.  

 

Learn more about Missouri’s native wildflowers that bloom in fall, with the Missouri Department of Conservation’s online Field Guide, and find places to go see Missouri’s colorful autumn landscape with their online Atlas.  

 

Discover Nature is sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation.

Kyle Felling was born in the rugged northwest Missouri hamlet of St. Joseph (where the Pony Express began and Jesse James ended). Inspired from a young age by the spirit of the early settlers who used St. Joseph as an embarkation point in their journey westward, Kyle developed the heart of an explorer and yearned to leave for adventures of his own. Perhaps as a result of attending John Glenn elementary school, young Kyle dreamed of becoming an astronaut, but was disheartened when someone told him that astronauts had to be good at math. He also considered being a tow truck driver, and like the heroes of his favorite childhood television shows (The A-Team and The Incredible Hulk) he saw himself traveling the country, helping people in trouble and getting into wacky adventures. He still harbors that dream.
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