Friday, October 30, 2009

Arrow-leaved Aster

There is one plant in the dry prairies that refuses to stop blooming. This is the Arrow-leaved Aster, a short plant that seems to wait until summer is over before beginning to bloom. This plant isn’t just holding on. Despite the fact that we’ve had many hard frosts, it’s continuing to produce fresh flowers.

The lower leaves are dying. It seems a risky business to be putting so much energy into flower and seed production when the leaves are losing their ability to replenish that energy. The fact that this is a very common plant at Blue Jay Barrens, indicates that its survival strategy is sound.

I love these mid-stem leaves. They are slightly thickened and sometimes feel like rough leather. This is one of those plants that has a lot of variation within the population. One day you may think you’ve found five different aster species in the field. The next day it’s just a field full of Arrow-leaved Aster. Variation is the key to new species development and this plant seems ready to take advantage of what ever the future may bring.

These little green wasps were constant visitors to the flowers. They don’t have much of a choice of nectar sources right now.

There were also a lot of these flies visiting the flowers. It’s fortunate that there are still active pollinators about.

The weather has moderated some, so these flowers should be around for a while yet. The other prairie plants don’t seem to be offering much competition right now. Except for these random dots of lilac, the predominant prairie color is brown.

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