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Plant of the Month   ~~   NOVEMBER 2007

updated on or about the 1st of each month


CALIFORNIA ASTER


  • Common Name(s): Cudweed-Aster, Woolly Aster, California Aster, Lessingia, Common Corethrogyne, California Corethrogyne, California Sandaster, Common Sandaster
  • Scientific Name: Lessingia filaginifolia, Corethrogyne filaginifolia
  • Family: Asteraceae, Sunflower family
  • Plant Type: Perennial flowering shrub
  • Size: up to 3 feet high
  • Common Habitat: chaparral, sage scrub, grasslands, oak woodlands

This month's plant is very hardy and ubiquitous, growing in a wide variety of places and elevations. It commonly blooms during the last half of the year. The dryer it is, the more scraggly the plant appears, but it still puts forth its 1-inch lavendar and yellow flowerheads. With our drought this year, it is one of the few plants to be found on the trails now still demonstrating any inflorescence.

This is a slender-looking plant with woolly, lance-shaped leaves up to 3 inches long. Butterflies are attracted to the plant, which along with its late flowering period, can make it a nice addition to your garden. The terminal flowerhead, really a conglomeration of individual flowers, is daisy-like, with yellow tubular disks flowers and lavendar-to-white ray flowers. The plant itself is a shrub but may not appear so, especially in places like dry meadows where almost the only visible parts are its flowers. The photos on this page were taken in the fields near the Reagan Ranch area of Malibu Creek State Park.

As you can see from above, this plant goes by many names. I had a hard time choosing one as the title for this month's page, every resource I researched seemed to emphasize a different name. Apparently its genus name used to be Corethrogyne, then changed to Lessingia, and is now being relisted back to Corethrogyne. Corethrogyne refers to the brush-like tips of the style. Lessingia is from the name of a German family of botanists and writers. Filaginifolia refers to having woolly leaves like the genus Filago, another member of the sunflower family. Cudweed is a term often used with various plants in the sunflower family.


Contributed by Liz Baumann

Curious what was featured in past Plants of the Month? Search the Archives.

References:
Wildflowers of the Santa Monica Mountains, by Milt McAuley
Flowering Plants: The Santa Monica Mountains, Coastal and Chaparral Regions of Southern California, by Nancy Dale
Roadside Plants of Southern California, by Thomas J. Belzer
California Native Plants for the Garden, by Carol Bornstein, David Fross, and Bart O'Brien
California Herbal Remedies, by LoLo Westrich

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