To help you create bird friendly habitat in your landscape, we are continuing our monthly series featuring a native plant that is beneficial to birds and pollinators.
This month's plant is: Silver Leaved Aster (Pityopsis graminifolia)
Autumn is a wonderful time of year for blooming asters and this class of flowers is one of my favorites.
There are many asters to choose from but the Silver Leaved Aster is a lovely native which is found throughout Florida in scrub, sandhills and flatwoods ecosystems. It is also called Grass-leaved Goldenaster or Narrowleaf Silkgrass. It blooms later than most of the other fall wildflowers and can provide color from late fall into early winter.
Silver Leaved Aster lives up to its name as the leaves are covered with silky hairs which give the plant a silvery look. It is a perennial with short or long rhizomes, depending upon the variety. It is only a foot tall most of the year until the fall, when it sends up bloom stalks on stems which can be up to three feet tall and sprawls several feet wide. The flowers are lemon yellow in color. Since this plant spreads from rhizomes it can make a dense groundcover over a large area but can also be controlled if you only want a spot of color here and there in your fall-blooming garden and it is easy to grow. It does well in dry to moist well drained sandy soils and will grow in full sunlight or partial shade. Once it has finished blooming, it can be mowed or cut back to the ground. Please be sure to use a very sharp blade as the stems and leaves are quite tough.
It is a great nectar plant which attracts butterflies and various pollinators.
For additional information on native plants for birds, check out Audubon's excellent Plants for Birds website: Audubon.org/plantsforbirds.
For local sources of native plants, check with the Ixia Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society. They often have native plants as well as cuttings available at their monthly meetings on the first Tuesday of each month. Check out their Events Calendar for all of their upcoming activities.
--Jody Willis, Past Chapter President, November 2020