Collected on this Day in 1896
Collected on October 6, 1896 (the same year Carnegie Museum was founded), this specimen was found by early museum botanist John Shafer on Jack’s Island, a small island on the Allegheny River (between Harrison Township and city of Lower Burrell).
Despite the name, New England aster can be found across eastern North America. Along with many other species in the genus Aster, this species was recently reclassified in the Symphyotrichum genus. Symphyotrichum novae-angliae is a perennial (lives for several years) with beautiful deep blue-purple flowers. Like other plants in the sunflower family (Asteraceae), the flowers are actually a cluster of flowers (heads) composed of many flowers, with ray and/or disk flowers.
Photo caption: View of Jack’s Island from Braeburn (Lower Burrell), PA. New England aster might still be on the island, but note the dense stands of invasive giant knotweed that now lines the river and island. Introduced to the United States as a garden plant in 1894, Giant knotweed (Fallopia sachilinensis) was not yet in our area when this aster specimen was collected in 1896.