It’s very nearly autumn and most flowers are either gone or soon will be. But some are still with us. Asters are the birth flowers for September, and not without reason. At this time of year they are still thriving and giving us dazzling displays of colour in our otherwise dreary gardens.
According to legend, when the Greek goddess Astraea looked down on the Earth and saw no stars, she wept. But star-shaped flowers sprang up wherever her tears fell – asters. That’s where they get their name from – ‘aster’ is ancient Greek for ‘star’. Let’s find out more about these astounding autumn flowers.
- We used to think that there were more than 600 different species of Aster. Now we know there are only 180 – still quite a few!
- In the UK there are only two native species of aster – the sea aster and goldilocks, which is extremely rare
- Asters have many names. Michaelmas daisies, starworts and frost flowers are just a few
- Asters come in a variety of sizes. Some are just 20cm tall while others can grow up to 2.5 metres
- Aster flowers come in many colours – red, pink, blue, lavender and purple
- Whatever their colour, all aster flowers have a yellow disc in their centre. This is to attract the insects which pollinate them
- Aster seeds come equipped with ‘wings’. These catch the wind and help to spread the seeds over as large an area as possible
- Some types of aster are said to be effective medicines. They are used to treat headaches and migraines, sciatica, muscle spasms and colds
- The aster was also believed to have magical powers. In ancient times the flowers were burned as the fragrant smoke allegedly kept evil spirits at bay
- It was also believed that asters could bring out someone’s affection. A dried aster was often given as a love charm
- As well as love, asters symbolically represent beauty, patience and good luck. They are also a sign of mourning and asters were placed on graves, particularly in France
- When the Hungarian people revolted in the aftermath of World War I, the revolutionaries wore asters. The event is known as the Aster Revolution
If you are a fan of flowers, then take a look at our free-to-play gardening quizzes. There are 40 in all, looking at topics as varied as perennial garden weeds, vegetable, ferns and grasses. There’s sure to be something there for you! And, after that, you might like to browse our Nature quizzes. We have dozens which are all free to play, including ones devoted to trees and wild flowers. Well worth a look!