Which Purple Aster?

Asters are hard to identify.  There are many species and many look alike.  Knowing this I mentally gave up on trying to figure them out long ago — and now I’m sorry.

During all my recent bird walks I’ve seen beautiful purple asters blooming among the goldenrod but I don’t know their name.  To make matters worse, I haven’t carried my Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide and I haven’t stopped to key out the flowers for later identification.

The asters pictured here are New England Asters (Aster novae-angliae) but the ones I see in the field might not be.  All I know is that the flowers are deep purple — sometimes deep reddish-purple — and the plants stand about two feet tall.

Have you seen purple asters blooming in southwestern Pennsylvania recently?  Do you know what species they might be?  If so, please leave a comment and enlighten me.

p.s. on October 9:  Today I examined the asters closely and keyed them out in my Newcomb’s Guide.  They are indeed New England Asters, planted by the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy in the wildflower area.

(photo by Mrs. W. D. Bransford from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.  Click on the photo to see the original.)

2 thoughts on “Which Purple Aster?

  1. I know very little about flowers, and practically nothing about asters. Do you recommend Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide as the best guide of this type? I’ve been wanting to get a wildflower guide for a while but know nothing about them. Great photograph!

  2. Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide is my favorite but it only covers eastern North America. I am not sure what you would use in California.

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