Another one if my fall friends are commonly known as Asters. According to the scientific establishment that’s not how they are classified any more. The true Aster genus is pretty much confined to Eurasia, with the species from North America previously known as asters being classified under several other related genera. All of that being said I am sure that these perennials will continue to be known as Asters for quite some time here in North America.
The name Aster is derived from a Greek word meaning “Star” referring to the shape of the flower head. The flowers consist of a central disc surrounded by numerous rays. There are many different species that have been commonly referred to as Asters. They were hard to positively identify before because of hybridization that takes place between the species. I can only imagine how hard it will be now. I am no expert on identifying them. Heck I still call them by a name that scientists don’t use any more. I do know enough though to look at a plant and know it is one “formerly known as an aster”.
Bees seem to love these plants. They normally bloom in the fall sometime right around the time of Goldenrod and bloom until taken out by frost. Both nectar and pollen are collected from Asters. I saw consistent warning in my research about aster honey being very prone to crystallizing. This is because it has a high glucose / fructose ratio. The higher the ratio the more likely honey is to form crystals. Examples of honeys with high glucose / fructose ratios are: aster, goldenrod, alfalfa, cotton, dandelion, mesquite, mustard and rape.
Honeys known to have a low glucose / fructose ratio (less likely to crystallize) are: black locust, sage, longan, and tupelo. Some of the honeys with a low ratio can remain crystal free for years. Crystallization of honey is more complicated than just the floral source and looks to be a complex subject. I had no idea until I stumbled upon it researching for this post. Perhaps I will cover it more in-depth in a subsequent post.
Questions? Comments? Are there any other weeds you would like to know about?
(This post added to Beeline Buzz Hop #1. Check it out to see what other beekeepers are up to.)