|photo taken on the highline NYC by ana traina|
ASTER, also known as "starwort," are hardy and colorful choices for your fall garden. These brilliantly colored flowers bloom from August through October, and were chosen as the official birth flower for September. In some locations they can grow till Christmas! The name "aster" originates from the Greek word for star, "astron." Some of the more sought-after types of asters are: the New England Aster, the Michaelmas Daisy (also called New York aster), the Sea Aster, the Monte Casino, the Frost Aster, and the Heath Aster. Michaelmas Daisy is commonly used to describe any early fall blooming aster.
Some History and Lore of Asters:
The aster's origination can be traced back to over 4000 years ago in China. It has been documented in Europe for at least 400 years. In ancient times, asters were believed to ward off serpents and evil spirits with their odor when their leaves were burned. A myth related that when Virgo looked down from heaven and wept, the stardust combined with his tears to create the aster. Virgil wrote that asters adorned the altars of the gods. Thus they were known as divine emblems in their early history. Asters were also laid on the graves of French soldiers to symbolize the wish that things had turned out differently.
Asters have been used in Chinese medicine for more than two thousand years. They mainly are used in cases of lung disease such as tuberculosis, bronchitis, staph infections, typhoid, and whooping cough. Their curative powers are said to include antibiotic, expectorant, and anti-fungal capabilities. The aster's root is sometimes mixed with honey and taken internally to heighten the expectorant quality.
Sea Aster (Aster tripolium) is one of the most flavoursome wild edible plants if you are into ‘gourmet foraging’. Often overlooked by many, it holds it’s texture very well, has an unusual, but highly more-ish taste, and to date I have yet to find anyone who found it revolting.
SEA ASTER RECIPE
▪ 4 handfuls of Sea Aster leaves
▪ Knob of butter
▪ 1-2 garlic cloves (crushed)
▪ 5 tablespoons of kefir or natural yoghurt
▪ Cracked black pepper
1. Melt butter in frying pan, then add the crushed garlic and fry for 30 seconds.
2. Stir in washed and dried sea aster leaves (either sliced or whole), and fry until they are wilted and look glazed.
3. Add the kefir or yoghurt and stir for 20 seconds.
4. Serve immediately.
Makes: 4 side portions
BITS OF ODDS AND ENDS -- The sea aster is a native plant of salt marshes, rocky sea cliffs and sea walls. The long, fleshy leaves are a distinguishing feature, and the loose flower-heads resemble Michaelmas daisies, to which this species is of course very closely related. Sea asters exist as rayed and rayless varieties but only the former have long blue or white florets. The rayless form is yellow.
The aster plant has also been used in alternative cancer treatment, as it contains epifriedelinol, a plant oil which has been shown to be an effective anticancer agent.