Blue Wood Aster
Blue Wood Aster is native to Ohio as well as most of eastern North America. You'll find this species mainly East of the Mississippi and located in just about every mature woodland or forest. Most plants in the aster family are fall blooming and are kind of the 'grand finale' in floral bloom peaking alongside goldenrods just as tree and shrub species slip into their true autumnal colors.
Blue wood Aster or Symphyotrichum cordifolium as the plant scientists say, can be found right here within The heritage Trails Park District. A hike in the Elizabeth Kuffner Nature Preserve will certainly not disappoint if you're on the hunt for these fall bloomers. Growing to two or three feet in height they produce numerous small flowers that bunch together to produce strands of light blue flower heads.
Pleasing to the eyes, this species of aster is also pleasing to our resident insect pollinators, too! Bumble bees, miners bees, mason wasps, and even flies get into the pollinator action. Butterflies, too, will most certainly visit as well if plants are sited close to an "edge" environment or woodland clearing. This includes the much beloved Monarch butterfly. Blue Wood Aster is also a staple food source for Pearl Crescent butterfly caterpillars. They find the leaves irresistible. Wild Turkeys have been known to feast on the seeds later in the fall!
Blue Wood Asters can be found growing in moist to medium dry woodland soils that include loam, clay loam, and clay. The more humus in these soils, the bigger the plants. The more sunlight the plant receives, the more flowers you'll see. If you're wondering if they can grow in your garden? Yes! A little shade, some good soil and you're set. They aren't too picky otherwise. In fact, native asters are better suited to grow in your gardens than the popular mum and are an essential part of the food web. Just remember digging or collecting plants within the Park District is strictly prohibited.
So, when you're out gallivanting around the woodlands and towpath this fall, keep an eye out for the fall blooming Blue Wood Aster. If you do; you might even see a Turkey or two!