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 calderi B.Boivin
Aster puniceus L.
Aster scabricaulis Shinners
Common Name: Purplestem Aster
Symphyotrichum puniceum is a herbaceous perennial plant forming a cluster of 1 - 5 or more erect stems 100 - 250cm tall from a usually short-rhizomatous rootstock[
The plant is a traditional medicinal herb, though probably little used as such at the present time. It is grown as an ornamental in gardens.
Central and Eastern N. America - Alberta to Newfoundland, south to Nebraska, Illinois and Georgia
Wet soils, often peaty, open to moderately shaded, margins of alluvial deciduous woods and alder thickets, swamp margins, edges of bogs, stream and lake shores, marshes, wet meadows; at elevations up to 2,000 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[
The crushed plant has a smell like juniper berries[
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 roots are diaphoretic, emmenagogue and febrifuge[
]. A decoction has been used in the treatment of colds, consumption, typhoid, pneumonia and fevers[
]. A decoction has been used to promote menstruation - this can lead to an abortion[
]. The decoction has also been used to restore a woman to health after giving birth[
]. The chewed root has been applied to an aching tooth to allay the pain[
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.