Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Plant that Found Me, Awl Aster

   I have this habit. If a plant sprouts up and I don't know what it is, I like to let it grow and flower so I can identify it and add it to my memory bank. If it turns our to be a desirable plant, I leave it. If it turns out to be an evil plant, I pull it up before it goes to seed. One particular new plant that sprouted up this year is pictured below...

   It's the leaning one, growing out of a crack between the bricks in the sidewalk. I had no idea it would get so tall, right now it's about five feet, and it's a bit awkward to walk around. Hurricane Irene blew it over, and it never quite straightened up. Now that it finally has begun to bloom, I think I've Id'ed it: Awl Aster, or Frost Aster, or Old Field Aster. The latin name seems to be Aster pilosus, or Symphyotrichum pilosum.

   Typical of asters, the flowers are small and white, and the stalks are quite rigid, almost woody at the base. Based on the size of this plant, there will be literally hundreds, if not thousands of flowers. It's hard to believe this huge plant grew from a tiny seed in just one season. It sure wasn't there last year, and I haven't seen any others around. I can only wonder how it got here. I think it's quite attractive, I just wish it was at the back of this border, not in the middle of the sidewalk. I would love to transplant it, but I don't think it will come out of the crack. Maybe I can collect some seeds and sow them elsewhere...

   It's been quite popular with spiders, particularly Long Jawed Orb Weavers, who've built numerous webs on this plants all summer long.

   Something has laid a mass of eggs on a stem, I have no idea what they are...And by the way, if you think I may have incorrectly identified this plant, please feel free to correct me.

So, you never what you might get, let that weed grow and it may just turn into a keeper!


  1. Finny M. Castle(perhaps soon to be changed?)September 21, 2011 at 4:41 PM

    Julie, I know of a place, all woodsy & green where many, many weeds grow as you've witnessed yourself. Now, I know that you can & have ID'd many of them already but the mystery weeds...
    shall we let them grow? Might we find a treasure?

  2. The same thing happened to me one year - mine is different and I identified as Symphyotrichum dumosum (Bushy aster). So many flowers! Your mass of eggs is really cool; hope you will let us know what it turns out to be.

  3. I had one too! I ID'd it as Whollatum Backsidum or (Big Fat Aster). The egg mass is wild. Looks like a snake skin. Seems that it would produce something like an aphid. However, you may take a look at the eggs of the Painted Lady Butterfly. A bit of a long-shot but I'm no expert. Good luck!!!

  4. Finny, not weeds but flowers...wildflowers...just like the place inside, a bit "wild". I couldn't sleep the other night, too many thoughts of transformation, so many possibilities! Gimme my tools, I'm ready to get diggin'!

    Ellen, so far, I think they might be some sort of fly eggs, but I'm still looking.

    Coraline, I don't think they're Painted Lady eggs. Ladys lay their eggs more spaced out, not all clumped together. Nice guess though!

  5. What a great volunteer. I'm amazed at what new plants arrive on their own in my yard. This year, I too have new asters (yet to be identified). I'm curious about the eggs too, so keep up posted.

  6. Yea!!! You have finally stumped both Ellen and Heather! They must be alien lifeforms? :)