Wildflower Wednesday: Aromatic Aster
In his book Bringing Nature Home Doug Tallamy describes asters as one of the top wildflowers that supports the most species of butterflies and moths. Not only do asters give color to our bright autumn days, but they are essential in supporting a variety of native bees, flies and butterflies that are active later in the year.
When we designed the wildlife hedgerow that sits above the retaining wall, which runs alongside the front driveway, we included several native asters as forage habitat for pollinators and songbirds. Several varieties of asters have been very productive over the past two growing seasons and filled in nicely.
The aromatic aster (Symphyotrichum oblongifolious) has been a standout. Thriving in the drier soil on this sloped terrain, it puts on quite a show for all those who drive by. This year it spilled over the retaining wall, creating a dramatic effect, but probably could have benefited from some mid-summer pruning.
Syrphid flies that mimic bees also seek nectar and pollen. One could sit for hours being entertained by the diversity of pollinators this aster supports.
While all of these insects are foraging, they are providing important pollination services to the plant. Later in the season, game birds and song birds will feast on the seeds.
*Symphyotrichum oblongifolious is native to most Southeastern States (excluding Georgia and South Carolina).