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.

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