New England aster

New England aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae)

By Leslie Duthie, New England Botanic Garden Volunteer
November 2023

Fall is my favorite time of the year. The mornings are cool and crisp, and afternoons are warm and usually pretty sunny. Although the days are getting shorter, the gardens are still full of flowers and fruit is beginning to ripen — not specifically for humans, but for all the wildlife that visit the garden. There’s no better way to observe seasonal change than in a garden. I’ve been volunteering at New England Botanic Garden a few times a week since 2018, and I take the time to notice lots of change. My eyes are often on our native plants.

In fall there are over 60 species of native asters and 40 species of native goldenrod to be found in New England. The variety of color, growth habit, and flower arrangement is pretty amazing. Some of the most prominent native species found at the Garden include New England aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae), purple stem aster (S. puniceum), New York aster (S. novi-belgii), and wood aster (Eurybia divaricata). In goldenrods you find two that are common and tend to be aggressive spreaders, Canada goldenrod (Solidago canadensis) and rough goldenrod (S. rugosa,) — these are best left in the meadows. Others like silverrod (S. bicolor), zig-zag goldenrod (S. flexicaulis), and wand goldenrod (S. puberula) do well in garden settings. Asters and goldenrods are some of the last blooms we see in the garden, and many have only just begun to fade. 

New England aster

Christmas fern (Polystichum acrostichoides)

I was walking in the woodland areas around the gardens the other day and came across some great plants growing naturally here. I found evergreen fern or fancy fern (Dryopteris intermedia