Sunday, October 3, 2021

Willowleaf Aster and other Late Bloomers * Late Summer Botany *


Living close to Ojibway Park in Windsor - I have really made an effort to find many of the rare plants that make Ojibway such a unique place in Southwestern Ontario. My latest find - Willowleaf Aster is somthing that I have wanted to see over the last few years, but since there are many types of Asters, the identification process is a little bit challenging!

I thought I had found this species last year, and I had posted my sighting on Inaturalist - but some botany experts suggested I had mis-identified the species based on the leaves along the stem. But this year, I think I have finally found a few patches in Windsor that I can confidently say that I have the proper ID. The flowers of this plant are a very light purple colour (almost white) and the colour can be made a little more apparent by underexposing the photos when photographing the plant. Allan W. from the NatureNuggets blog who is an excellent source of information gave me some tips on field marks to look for, such as the patterns on the underside of the leaves on this species. The subtle impression I get when I look at this plant is that its an Aster plant that have "rosemary-like" leafy stems throughout. They get willow-like as you move down the stem towards the ground.  

I almost goes without saying that the beautiful autumn flower show that is provided by Goldenrods and Asters makes the change of season (with its shorter days and colder temps) a little more bearable. 

Some other plants that are fun to find at this time of year are Fringed Gentian and Bottle Gentian flowers, that are found in some prarie habitats within the Ojbiway Park network. Fringed Gentian is not a perenial, so I find that looking for them each year requires a little bit of walking around in good habitat and they seem to show up in new places year after year. 

Backtracking a little to summer, I had found a pretty rare plant at Ojibway which is Whorled Milkweed! I was blown away to find this and I can't help but wonder if its naturally occurring or if it was planted?

Speaking of rare milkweed plants, I had observed a single specimen of Tall Green Milkweed this summer as well (around early-mid July).  I had gone back a few weeks later to see this plant in full flower, but sadly, its flowers or the top of the plant had been gnarled somehow, perhaps deer herbavory?

Anyway - I have been a little busy with work/life but I still value the chance I have to blog some of my nature sightings. I think writing really lets a person think, reflect, share ... put ideas down into words. Perhaps create memories or give someone else a chance to see what I'm seeing in my little corner of the world. I really think botany is a great hobby, and I've enjoyed learning from the blogosphere of Naturalists that I follow. 

Good Naturalizing!


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