There are hundreds of asters to choose from. Fortunately, only 29 are recognized in Michigan Flora. That helps a lot. It's a confusing group of flowers and I confess that I'm only comfortable identifying a few of them without a book in hand. But maybe this one won't fool me again. It's quite distinctive, once you ignore the common name.
Most of the field guides say that a flat-topped cluster of flowers is distictive for the species. Does this cluster look like it has a flat top to you? Me neither. So, I kept skipping over the rest of the description.
In the end, I had to come back to several other characteristics. It has few rays (the white "petals" that really aren't petals. The actual flowers are the tiny things in the center).
The leaves are neither toothed nor smooth-edged. Rather they are just sort of rough. Where the leaves join the stem they neither clasp nor quite have a short stem. I'm not sure what's up with the purple stems. It's not listed as a characteristic of this aster in any books I have, however, it sometimes indicates heat stress, so maybe it just happened in this dry hot summer.
There you have it. Doellingeria umbelatta, Flat-topped white aster. One of the most common in Michigan.
In other news: I am not very proud of myself. I did write a chapter, but then I started reading a book. A really good book. It's been a while since a book has grabbed me and wouldn't let go. So, I wasted a beautiful day to have gotten some work done.
|See Baker Sanctuary|