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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

04 October, 2009

Sea Aster (Aster tripolium)

The first time I encountered this flower after moving to Dorset I thought it was an 'escaped' Michaelmas Daisy which is grown in many gardens and originates from North America. However, there subsequently proved to be so much of it along the coastal cliffs and especially on salt-marshes (Radipole and Lodmore for example) I soon had to get my field guide out.

The Sea Aster is, indeed a close relative of the Michaelmas Daisy and even flowers at the same time of year. The flowers are very similar but closer examination of the plant itself reveals thicker, more fleshy leaves.

The most obvious distinction however is where they grow.

Sea Aster is very much a plant of late summer and autumn and a much valued nectar source for insects at a time when many flowers have gone to seed. It is an abundant plant of our sea and estuary coasts and a very attractive one it is too.