Native Wildflowers: A Feast in the Fall

Our native wildflowers are still putting on a show, in addition to provisioning late season pollinators and butterflies searching for fuel to carry them through the winter. Some of those creatures hibernate right here, others are taking wing and heading south, but they are all adapted to count on the late season boost from those native flowers.

Alexandria’s Natural Resource Specialist, Rod Simmons, was out and about today and caught some of the Native Action going on in several places; thanks Rod, for sharing your photos and knowledge!

Symphotrichum prenanthoides, Crooked-stem aster

Symphyotrichum prenanthoides, Crooked-stem aster

You can actually see the ‘crooked stem’ in this photo, it kind of zigs and zags. This little scene, starring a Syrphid fly, was acted out at Tarleton Park, in Alexandria.  Rod tells us: “This is a successful re-introduction of a native plant back to its historically-known station in the lower Holmes Run Stream Valley of Alexandria; collected last in 1886 by H.W. Henshaw.” 

Symphyotrichum pilosum var pilosum

Symphyotrichum pilosum var pilosum

The Frost aster was in bloom at Lebanon Cemetery. Cemeteries are frequently the home of native plants whose habitat was removed from the land surrounding it, sometimes very rare plants are finding refuge there.

Symphyotrichum dumosum var dumosum,  Bushy aster

Symphyotrichum dumosum var dumosum, Bushy aster

Rod found Bushy aster in abundance at Daingerfield Island along the Potomac River.  A Buckeye butterfly, Junonia coenia is the guest at this feast. 

Virginia has 32 species of Symphyotrichumconcolor through urophyllum. (!) For further study of the species, here are some good online resources:

Digital Atlas of Virginia Flora, Symphyotrichum
Learning the Asters
Chicago Botanical Garden: Native Asters

sue dingwell