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A Floridata Plant Profile #829 Aster tataricus
Common Names: Tatarian aster, Tartarian aster, Tatarian daisy
Family: Asteraceae/Compositae (aster/daisy Family)
Wallpaper Gallery (2 images)

Perennial  Attracts Butterflies Flowers

Tatarian aster
The Tatarian aster's dainty flowers are tough enough to withstand frosts and provide a valuable late season food source for butterflies.
Tatarian aster (sometimes misspelled as tartarian aster) is a large, rangy aster that gets 6-8 ft (1.8-2.4 m) tall and forms colonies from stout underground rhizomes. This big, rather weedy looking aster spends much of the year as a basal rosette of large paddle shaped sandpapery leaves that grow up to 24 in (61 cm) long and 6 in (15 cm) wide with long petioles and toothed margins. In this stage, tatarian aster looks like a mound of tobacco or Swiss chard leaves, 2-3 ft (0.6-0.9 m) across. In early autumn it sends up flowering stalks with leaves that get progressively smaller and lose the marginal teeth and petioles. By mid to late autumn the flower stalks branch near the top and bear large and abundant flat-topped clusters of flowerheads which are lavender with yellow centers and about 1 in (2.5 cm) across. 'Jin-Dai' is a smaller, more compact selection, only 3-4 ft (0.9-1.2 m) tall, with light blue ray flowers.

Tatarian aster is native to southern Siberia, northern China, Mongolia, Korea and Japan, where it grows in meadows and wetlands. It has escaped cultivation and established self sustaining populations in parts of eastern North America. The cultivar 'Jin-Dai' was selected from seedlings found at a Japanese botanical garden near Tokyo.

Tatarian aster is easy to grow in ordinary moist soil. Plants may get only 3-4 ft (0.9-1.2 m) tall in their first year, but can get up to 8 ft (2.4 m) tall in following years. Divide every couple years to maintain vigor and keep the planting in bounds.
Light: Full sun to partial shade. Tatarian aster tolerates considerable shade, but plants that don't get full sun may require staking.
Moisture: Tatarian aster is not at all tolerant of drought, and does best in a moist soil.
Hardiness: USDA Zones 3 - 8.
Propagation: Propagate tatarian aster by division of the root mass in early spring. For massing, plant at 12-18 in (30.5-45.7 cm) spacings.

Tatarian aster
In autumn the Tatarian aster skyrockets in height up to 8 ft (2.4 m) and tops itself with tiny lavender flowers as demonstrated by this handsome individual at the Atlanta Botanical Garden in Georgia.

This late blooming aster may be a challenge to place because it is so big and so coarse textured. It can look more like a roadside weed than a civilized flower. But Tatarian aster is still blooming at the time of the first frost, and the local butterflies surely appreciate that! Use Tatarian aster in back of the border or allow it to naturalize in a wildflower/butterfly garden. Extracts from the roots of tatarian aster are used by herbalists to treat cold symptoms, pulmonary complaints, and fluid retention in the lungs and bronchial passages.

Tatarian aster blooms very late in the season, and still looks good at the time of the first frost. Grow this butterfly magnet with Joe Pye weed and purpletop verbena and give the autumn migrating monarchs and fritillaries a reason to hang around.

Tatarian aster was named after Tatary, the vast region of Siberia and Mongolia that was inhabited by the Tatar tribes who invaded eastern Europe in the Middle Ages.

Under ideal growing conditions, tatarian aster can spread aggressively by its rhizomes, and take over a flower bed.

Steve Christman 10/17/00; updated 10/11/03

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