Monday, September 14, 2009

Deeper into Aster

Aster comes from the family Asteraceae (Daisies), there are about 180 species within. Certain types, like the New York Aster and the New England Aster look quite similar and hard to determine the differences. One interesting thing about the plant is that it is able to grow in all hardiness zones. The lowest zone, 1, on the Hardiness Scale able to withstand temperatures of -51 degrees celcius. This area typically sees a hardiness zone around 4, which goes to -35 celcius.
The New England Aster is an herbaceous perennial which basically means the plant will die into the ground, but the roots remain plentiful bringing new growth in the spring.
Some folk names for the plant are China Aster, Michaelmas Daisy and Starwort.
I found a website that shows much interesting background information in terms of ancient uses and such.
This is a quote from the website on New England Aster
"Aster was employed in decoction internally and a strong decoction was used externally for eruptive skin diseases and also for poison ivy.The Chippewa smoked the root in a pipe to attract game.The Mohawk used an infusion of the entire plant combined with root of Lady Fern for mothers who had a fever in their intestines.New England aster, along with blur and panicled asters, were used in infusion for treatment of fever.New England aster was used as a fumigating agent by Native Americans and possibly early settlers.The root tea was used by Native Americans for fevers and diarrhea."
Because of its attractive properties, such as color and light grace that it brings to a greenscape, the flower has been introduced to many gardens. Used as a flattering compliment to a homeowner or gardener's land. As are most wildflowers, its ease of maintenance also makes it attractive. Keep it in the sun, because it does not tolerate strong shade!