Douglas Aster Seeds (Symphyotrichum subspicatum)
One of the latest blooming wildflowers in the Northwest.
Rising up to 3 or 4 feet in height with purple/blue/white flowers, this hardy plant adapts to an incredible range of conditions. We find it on windswept and salt-sprayed coastal bluffs, in damp forest clearings along pristine trout streams, and growing out of pavement cracks in the economy parking lot of the airport. In our experience, about the only thing this adaptable plant doesn't stand up to is constant rabbit browsing.
Technically Douglas aster is native from the Aleutian islands in Alaska all the way south into northern California -- with populations also showing up in parts of Idaho and Montana. It's a very good plant for areas with full sun to partial shade, areas subjected to salt or saline soils, areas that are occasionally subject to flooding, and it can tolerate cold winters. Like many of our native meadow plants, Douglas aster is under-valued as a rain garden or bioswale species.
This plant is a caterpillar food source for a large number of butterfly and moth species including the northern crescent, the field crescent, the painted lady, and the Isabella tiger moth (aka 'wooly bears'), with the clusters of pollen and nectar-rich flowers attracting hefty numbers of late season bees and butterflies including various bumble bees, leafcutter bees, and skippers. Why bother with non-native asters in the garden when this handsome Northwest native is adaptable to so many different conditions and is so attractive to wildlife?
Because this is a difficult seed to clean, please note that it may include pappus (fluff), and dried flower parts. Given the small size, aster seed is best handled by sowing into trays for later transplanting, or by mixing it with an inert carrier such as dry peat moss or sand before scattering across a planting area. Once scattered, it can be watered in (or rained on) to work the small fluffy seeds into the soil surface.
Approximately 100 – 200 seeds (0.1 grams).