The Asters, Goldenrods & Fleabanes of Grey & Bruce Counties

The Asters, Goldenrods & Fleabanes of Grey & Bruce Counties s This book was conceived when two members of the Owen Sound Field Naturalists, Ralph and June Krueger, were having trouble with identification because there are so many species in Ontario. They were developing an Aster and Goldenrod garden. They were using John Semple’s books for Ontario which are excellent but we have only half the Ontario species. We were very fortunate that John gave us permission to use his diagrams. We did not attempt to give colour photos since asters are enormously variable. Some species range from white to dark blue so you have to go by the structure of the flower head and the leaf shape and arrangement.

The Fleabanes (Erigeron sp.) were added because another member of the Field Naturalists, Dorothy Kings, pointed out that people often confuse them with asters. There are only three species and one important rare sub-species – Provencher’ s Fleabane – which is the one illustrated on the front cover of the book. There are 15 aster species and 16 goldenrods (Solidago sp.). All these plants are members of the family which used to be called Compositae because the flowers are actually heads of two different kinds of tiny florets, the outer ones with rays , the inner ones tiny discs. The Fleabanes have narrower ray florets and more of them than the Asters. The diameter of the disc is wider in relation to the length of the petals. The goldenrod flower heads are generally much smaller and more numerous. The number of florets is much fewer.

New England Aster is a typical example of the Asters but its colour varies from pink to purple. The most familiar Goldenrods are three species in the Canada Goldenrod complex, but Grass Leaved Goldenrod with a flat topped inflorescence is also common. Whereas species like the Ontario Goldenrod, photographed on the Flowerpot Island shore, are much more habitat specific and, therefore, uncommon. Because Goldenrods bloom late in the season, many people think they cause Hay Fever. They do not have wind borne pollen, they are insect pollinated so they have sticky pollen. It is the inconspicuous, greenish ragweed, common along mown roadsides and other disturbed areas which is the culprit.

Most people are unaware that one goldenrod has white flowers. Unfortunately, its common name is the Upland White Aster! It is actually a member of the Goldenrod genus, Solidago ptarmicoides. Purchasing this slim volume will enable you to start to recognise the different species you encounter. stores.

Author: Owen Sound Field Naturalists

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