Saturday, August 10, 2019

Bahama Aster - Symphyotrichum bahamense

For some reason, Bahama aster (Symphyotrichum bahamense) gets left out of Florida wildflower books. Admittedly, it is not as showy as most in this diverse genus, but it has a special charm of its own in my opinion. It also is one of the most widespread members of this genus of perennial wildflowers in Florida and, thus, often encountered in the field. It is reported throughout peninsular Florida, from the Big Bend all the way to extreme south Florida. It also has been reported in Georgia and Louisiana, though its range in those two states is restricted. It is classified as an obligate wetland plant - a species that only occurs in wet soil habitats. Therefore, it also is a bit problematic adding it to a "normal" wildflower garden.
Bahama aster is a winnowy species. The narrow basal leaves emerge in spring and a tall thin flower stalk emerges shortly after. The leaves along this stalk are much reduced in size. At maturity, the stalk stands about 3 feet tall. The small white flowers are present by mid-summer. They have a light lavender blush to them and surround a center of yellow disk flowers. Each bloom measures about 1/2-3/4 inch across.  Like all members of the aster family, they are of interest to pollinating insects.
I have never seen Bahama aster offered for sale by any of the nurseries affiliated with FANN - the Florida Association of Native Nurseries and, although I currently propagate a large number of Symphyotrichum asters at Hawthorn Hill, I do not have plans to propagate this one at this time either. That could change if there was a demand for it, but its use seems mostly limited to wetland restoration plantings where pollinators are a special interest. Look for it from summer into early fall in open wet habitats - and along wetland ditches. If you are on the lookout for it, I'm betting you will find it.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please let me know if this site and the various postings have been useful to you.