Asters form a large genus, of which, in North America, there are numerous species. The display of flowers of the aster is usually fairly dense. As the name would indicate (aster is Greek meaning star), the flowers of the aster are showy and radiated.
The asters are the latest blooming wild flowers we have here in Nova Scotia. One will spot them as showy bouquets as summer concludes and late into the autumn. They flower profusely in pinks and blues and whites until a series of frosts takes them away. While the aster is a readily identifiable genus, it is one which presents a considerable challenge if one is to sort out the 19 varieties listed in Roland. The five most common asters in Nova Scotia, are: the umbellatus, the acuminatus, the nemoralis, the lateriflorus, and radula.
White Aster (umbellatus): This aster will be found in your first hunt: its white and tall and common. It likes wet ground. Audubon describes the white aster as bearing its flowers in flat-topped clusters which clusters can stretch to being a foot wide. The plant itself, can grow to quite a large size: one to seven feet.
Wood Aster (acuminatus): The wood aster prefers drier soils and is usually found handy to the hardwoods (deciduous).
Bog Aster (nemoralis): This aster is "low and wiry" with only one or a couple of lilac-purple flowers upon its stem.
Tiny Aster (lateriflorus): Roland describes it as tiny and much branched with numerous small flowers. It is abundant throughout the province.
Atlantic Aster (radula): This aster is ascribed by Roland as being one that is more common to the Atlantic side of the province. Its habitant: "boggy barrens, peaty swales, bogs and damp thickets."