The aster is a large genus of flowers named by the ancient Greeks for the star-like shape of its flower head, with the Greek word aster meaning star. When the Greek goddess Asterea wept, saddened by the lack of stars on earth, it was said that everywhere a tear drop landed, an aster grew. The aster took on magical and mystical properties; one of them is that the foliage has the power, when burned, to keep away evil serpents. In France, cut asters are often laid on the grave of a fallen soldier, partly to honor his bravery and partly to symbolize the wish that things had turned out differently.
They’re ancient wild flowers, with many alternative, common names. Michaelmas daisies (they bloom around the time of Michaelmas, September 29th), starwort, and Frost flowers. True asters being native to Europe and Asia, and with only one aster native to North America. There used to be many more flowers formerly known as “asters” growing in the New World, but they were almost all reclassified in the 90s, and this change left slightly fewer than 200 true aster species in the genus. For florists, though, Indeed, the aster you’ll often see in florists is the Chinese Aster (Callistephus chinensis). An interesting aside; in China, the aster symbolizes fidelity.
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Asters usually have small to medium-sized flower heads, with some as much as a foot across. They’re similar in shape to a daisy, or the star after which they’re named. Enchanting, elegant and refined, the color range, thanks to many, many years of cultivation and hybridization, is from white through yellow, orange, pink, lavender, blue and violet to purple. The center of the flower is most often yellow. Bi-colors are also often found. When you send someone a gift including asters, you’re sending them a symbol of love and patience. They would make a wonderful way to patch over a misunderstanding or disagreement, or to request forgiveness if you’re late on a commitment or belatedly recognizing an event. Our favorite online florist, FlowersFast offer some gorgeous bouquets and arrangements featuring the aster, with my particular favorite being the All For You bouquet. With proper care the aster will continue to give you pleasure for somewhere between 5 and 10 days.
As so many other flowers, the aster is a hard-working bloom; as well as being the flower of the 20th wedding anniversary, it’s also the flower for those who have a birthday in September.