On your birthday it’s not uncommon to receive a present featuring your birthstone or zodiac symbol. However, few people know about their birth flower. In this series, we’ll be looking at the birth flower of each month, according to Joseph Hammer-Pugstall’s The Language of Flowers.
In the Northern hemisphere, September means welcoming Autumn back while still clinging to the last of the Summer warmth. Asters (Aster sp.) are a fitting transitional birth flower for September, with their colourful petals and warm, autumn coloured inflorescences.
Asters belong to the Daisy family (Asteraceae), and just like their Common Daisy cousins (Bellis perennis), the part of the plant we refer to as a flower isn’t actually a flower. Instead, the structure we see is an inflorescence made up of a hundred or more smaller yellow flowers, some of which have purple petals (find out more from the Common Daisy post)!
The name Aster is of Ancient Greek origin meaning ‘star’ (ἀστήρ), which is in reference to the shape of their inflorescence. In a flowerbed, these colourful little plants certainly shine. Especially as the days begin to darken and the plants around them start to wilt; their brilliant colours are a source of joy in autumn.
Like many flowers, Asters have a lot cultural significance. In Ancient Greece, it was believed that burning Aster leaves would ward off evil spirits and snakes. In Ancient Greek mythology, the goddess Asteria wept tears of stardust that fell to Earth and sprouted the first Asters.
Asters symbolise love, loyalty, wisdom and power. Their association with loyalty can be seen in different cultures, including British and Chinese. However, giving someone Asters can be deciphered in two ways. Either you give Asters to a loved one to show you are loyal or as a subtle way to ask if they are being loyal to you.
While they may not actually ward off snakes, they definitely attract pollinators. Butterflies and caterpillars love them for their foliage as they provide food late in the season, when other flowers are starting to die back. Their late blossom also coincides with the monarch migration, providing monarch butterflies with fuel on their long journey.
The fun purple and orange colour combination of Asters make them a popular choice for bouquets, but also for art and television. In the Disney Peter Pan franchise, there are a number of fairies based on different flowers. Aster, the Aster fairy (pictured below), features in some of the Neverland Books and wears a purple beret with an orange pompom to signify her plant.
This dazzling September favourite is the perfect transitional plant as we move into Autumn. Its bright, cheery petals are a last hurrah as we move into the colder part of the year. To ensure you don’t miss October’s birth flower, be sure to follow Fronds with Benefits here, on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.
Feature image: Capri23auto
Field of Asters: Manfred Richter
Bee on an Aster: Uschi Dugulin
Disney Aster: Fandom
Butterfly on an Aster: dae jeung kim