Sep. 18, 2018

panicled aster, Symphyotrichum lanceolatum

Here's another visit to the aster family. For the uninitiated, each of these white and yellow beauties is a flower. Look a little closer, and it turns out that each white ray is its own flower. The mathematically precise array of yellow bits in the center is another group of individual flowers. These compound flowers were once called composites, in family Compositae. Now under new rules they're called asters, or Asteraceae. The family is a marvelous group of flower arrangers, but always with a bunch of flowers in heads, each flower creating one seed. Some, like thistles, have only the center flowers. Some, like dandelions, only do rays. And of course a great many are more similar to this aster group. Some flower heads in the family do not assign the same role to all flowers. Here we have an example with rays that are only female. You can just see the pistils peeking out at the base of each ray. The center flowers are bisexual. Wonders within wonders, all very successful. Panicled asters grow in almost any habitat except the very wettest in every state and province except AK, HI, LB, and YT; introduced to Europe. Washtenaw Co MI, 10/19/16.