Common Name: Drummond's Aster.
Scientific Name: Symphyotrichum Drummondii.
What to look for? Clusters of tiny pale blue or lavender flowers sitting atop a tall stem. Drummond’s Aster is a perennial wildflower consists of a small rosette of semi-evergreen, basal leaves from autumn to spring. In late spring, this wildflower bolts to produce one or more leafy stems. The tall leafy stems are clad with heart-shaped, alternate leaves that diminish in size as they ascend the stems. Rising from the stem tops are large showy inflorescences of flowers. Each individual flower features a dozen pale blue or lavender rays and cream to yellow center disks which age to reddish purple . Flowers are followed by a fruit (dry seed with a tuft of white hairs). With the help of the white hairs, seeds are distributed to new locations by wind. The root system is fibrous and short with clonal offsets often produced from the rhizomes.
Where can they be found at Carillon Stonegate Pond? The Drummond’s Aster may be seen growing sporadically around the edges of the forest preserve during the fall.
How big are they? The Drummond’s Aster generally grows to approximately four (4) feet tall. The oblong leaves are up to four (4) inches long and three (3) inches across - becoming smaller in size as they ascend the stems. The panicle of flowerheads about two (2) inches long and about one (1) inch across. Each flowerhead is about one-half (0.5) inch across.
Where do they grow and thrive? The native Drummond’s Aster is primarily found in open woodland areas and clearings in the central U. S. from Minnesota to Pennsylvania south to Texas and Alabama.
When do they bloom? The Drummond’s Aster blooms for up to three (3) months from very summer into autumn.
Do birds, insects or other wildlife associate with this plant? The flowers of the Drummond’s Aster are cross-pollinated by a variety of bees, wasps, butterflies, skippers, moths, and other insects. Both nectar and pollen are available to such visitors. In general, asters are less important to vertebrate animals. However, deer, rabbits, and groundhogs feed on the foliage.
Interesting Facts About Drummond's Aster:
Genus name comes from the Greek ‘symph’ meaning coming together and ‘trich’ meaning hair in possible reference to the flower anthers.
Specific epithet honors Thomas Drummond (1790-1835), Scottish naturalist who collected plant specimens in the western and southern U.S. in the early 1830s.
For more information on the Drummond’s Aster and sources of information used in this blog (these are several of the sources that I am using to learn as I blog), please visit Illinois Wildflowers, Minnesota Wildflowers, Missouri Botanical Garden, and Kansas Wildflowers.
The Carillon at Stonegate community is very fortunate to have a variety of wetland, forest and prairie environments conducive to a variety of birds and other wildlife, insects and plants. Our community and the Kane County Forest Preserve do an exceptional job in maintaining this natural environment – both for the benefit of the birds and wildlife and for our residents to enjoy.
Take a hike and see what you can find – and identify!