Generic delimitation in Astereae has long been a source of disagreement among botanists. The ways in which they treat the large and diverse genus Aster usually reflect their philosophy on generic concepts, and although there are many variations, in general there have historically been two schools of thought. The first approach maintains a very inclusive generic concept of a large genus Aster, with subdivision of the genus into several subgenera. The second approach was to segregate many distinctive small genera from Aster, thus adopting a narrow generic concept As a result of new in-depth studies of phenotype features and, more recently, DNA sequences, combined with reasonably strict adherence to the tenets of phylogenetic systematics, the genus Aster is now much more narrowly and more naturally defined than before. Consequently many of the species, including this one, that were formerly accepted in a looser definition of that genus have now been transferred to several more narrowly defined genera.
Aster novae-angliae L.
Virgulus novae-angliae (L.) Reveal & Keener
Common Name: New England Aster
Symphyotrichum novae-angliae is a herbaceous perennial plant forming a dense cluster of erect stems 30 - 120cm tall from a woody rootstock[
Commonly cultivated as an ornamental plant, there are many named forms that are particularly valued for their autumn flowering. The plant also has traditional medicinal uses.
N. America - Manitoba to Nova Scotia, south to New Mexico, Missouri, Mississippi and South Carolina
Open, moist to wet, sandy or loamy, rich soils, fields, prairies, meadows, marshy grounds, shores, thickets, moist edges of woods, roadsides, somewhat weedy; at elevations from sea level to 1,600 metres[
|Pollinators||Bees, Flies, Beetles, Lepidoptera, Self
|Cultivation Status||Ornamental, Wild
Plants are hardy to about -25°c[
Succeeds in most good garden soils[
], preferring one that is well-drained and moisture retentive[
]. Prefers a sunny position[
], but it also succeeds in partial shade[
]. Prefers a rich soil[
], but tolerates poor ones[
A polymorphic species, there are many named varieties selected for their ornamental value[
]. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus[
Plants need to be divided every few years, preferably in the spring, in order to keep the plant vigorous[
Most species in this genus seem to be immune to the predations of rabbits[
Attracts butterflies and moths, it is also a good bee plant providing nectar in autumn[
The root is analgesic, astringent, expectorant and febrifuge[
]. A poultice has been used in the treatment of pain, fevers and diarrhoea[
]. The ooze of the roots has been sniffed in the treatment of catarrh[
A decoction of the whole plant has been used in the treatment of all kinds of fevers and in the treatment of weak skin[
Seed - surface sow in spring in a cold frame. Do not allow the compost to become dry. Pre-chilling the seed for two weeks can improve germination rates[
]. Germination usually takes place within 2 weeks at 20°c[
]. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer.
Division in spring or autumn[
]. Very easy, larger divisions can be planted straight into their permanent positions whist smaller clumps are best potted up and kept in a cold frame until they are growing away well.
Basal cuttings in late spring. Harvest the shoots when they are about 10 - 15cm long with plenty of underground stem. Pot them up into individual pots and keep them in light shade in a cold frame or greenhouse until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the summer.