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Arb Notes: Fall colors by the asters

Hello everyone and welcome back to Carleton (be it physically or virtually)! As the wind turns crisp and occasionally chilly, we are starting to see some bright autumn colors in the Arb, credit to members of the Aster family (Asteraceae).

The New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae) is in the peak of its bloom season. Strolling in the Upper Arb prairie, you can spot its robust purple  flowers peeking out from the tall grasses. As a late-season bloomer, it serves as an important food source for pollinators.

The Hairy White Oldfield Aster (Symphyotrichum pilosum) is also in its prime, parading dainty white blossoms scattered upon a mattress of hairy leaves. The branches are often arched since it tends to flower on just one side of the branch (a phenomenon known as secund in fancy botanical terminologies).

Several species of goldenrods (Solidago spp.) can be found in the Arb. Their

signature flower clusters live up to their name quite faithfully: the yellow flowers are clustered in branches (the “rods”). In some species, those branches tend to form a pyramidal contour (Canada Goldenrod, Missouri Goldenrod, and Smooth Goldenrod), while in others cylindric or club-shaped (Zigzag Goldenrod).

As the legions of mosquitoes are making their final retreat, take a walk in the Arb if you haven’t yet done so this fall, or explore our website to connect with the flora and fauna at Carleton no matter where the circumstances have kept you.

Stay safe and enjoy the fall colors!

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