A garden oasis and cultural center overlooking the Hudson River

Plant of the Week: Aster lateriflorus ‘Lady in Black’ (Calico Aster Cultivar)

Charles Day is Wave Hill’s Ruth Rea Howell Horticultural Interpreter.

The calico aster is a native of eastern North America and, although known in the trade as Aster lateriflorus, has been reclassified by taxonomists as Symphiotrichum lateriflorum. As with other name changes, this new name will, eventually, become more widely used and accepted.

The specific epithets in both cases (lateriflorus and lateriflorum) refer to the location of the flowers—along the sides of the stems.the-plant

‘Lady in Black’ is a selection found growing in a garden in the Netherlands (and reintroduced back to its native land). The new growth in early summer has small, but dramatic, dark-maroon leaves. From September until frost, the plant is covered with masses of tiny, daisy-like flowers with dusky-pink centers.

On a sunny day, these flowers attract huge numbers of insect pollinators. It is quite mesmerizing to watch them flitting from flower to flower, totally engaged in their quest for nectar and pollen.close-up

‘Lady in Black’ and her attendant pollinators can be spotted in the Wild Garden, near the Gazebo.the-gazebo

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