Goldenrod are a familiar late summer flowers, their brilliant yellow crowns fuelling bees and butterflies. However, there are other native plants that help to sustain pollinators too. Sporting complimentary colours, New England asters (or Michaelmas daisies) also provide nectar and pollen to feed all manner of beneficial insects.
They come in a variety of hues: deep purples, pinks, and lavenders.
These hardy roadside plants may grow over a meter in height, with several strong stems rising from the roots. The flowers are daisy-like composites, made up of two types of florets. The outer ray florets have long thin petals, giving the flower its customary purple colour, while the inner yellow disc florets are the pollen and nectar sources. There can be up to 100 of each floret in every flower head.
The seeds are a food source for songbirds. The clumps of seeds have tufts of tawny coloured hairs that help with dispersal, carrying the seeds a distance on the wind. These native plants are a great addition to a sunny or partly shaded garden.
Nancy Melcher is The Nature Nut. Send details of your sightings or questions about the natural world to: firstname.lastname@example.org