This cluster of Frost Aster shows the various stages of life of a flower from bud (far bottom left) to withering petals (top right) with mature bloom in the middle.
Like people, each flower, at a given moment is unique in appearance, experience and stage of life. Portraits of individual blossoms show their individuality. One has lost the youthful vitality with its receding brown *carpel and sparse bent petals. The other flower is at its peak with bright golden center and prolific array of petals.
*Britannica defines “Carpel, (as) one of the leaflike, seed-bearing structures that constitute the innermost whorl of a flower. One or more carpels make up the pistil. Fertilization of an egg within a carpel by a pollen grain from another flower results in seed development within the carpel.
These Aster clusters appear to be in full bloom in our eighteen inches of fresh snow. The deceptive flowers are actually opened seed heads, which are just as showy as their preceding purple blossoms.
Stay safe and warm Mid-Westerners…and Easterners as deep below zero high temperatures are expected tomorrow.
I am thankful for each season of life. Blessings to you this day after Thanks-giving Day.
This time of year the garden is full of busy work, including buzzing bees, also guests of the aster. What’s not evident in the previous post of the Cabbage White and this image of the bee is the constant activity at this cluster of purple fall bloom. The Cabbage White and the Bee remain still only for brief moments and then shift to different petals, trying new positions for the more perfect angle to sup the nectar. Meanwhile sparrows are accompanied by Junko, chickadee, goldfinch, and woodpeckers, all jockeying for time at the bird feeder. Squirrels are chasing each other and pausing to dine on acorns strewn on the lawn. Chipmunks join the busy-ness as they flit back and forth gathering whatever they can carry in preparation for winter’s emminant arrival.
One spot on the white powdery dorsal wing means this Cabbage White, pieris rapae, butterfly is a male. The purple aster is host to him on this November day in my garden.
An interesting, easily observed behavior is the spiral flight. When a male shows interest in a female that has already mated, she indicates her lack of interest by rising, the two butterflies circling each other, until the male loses interest and drops back to the ground. The female then comes down more slowly and resumes egg-laying (Stokes 1983).
Two dots on the dorsal wing mean “female” Cabbage White butterfly. Such markings make this European immigrant easy to identify. The Cabbage White is one butterfly that, like the Sparrow bird, often goes unappreciated because of its abundance in the garden. Other similarly marked butterflies, such as the Alfalfa, a native species that I saw frequently as a child, have since all but disappeared in northern Illinois.